Father @ Forty, Son @ Seven

My Seven Year Old

Seven on a snow day

Seven on a snow dayYuri at seven is following my footsteps and frustrating everyone, including a much better version of the bullish vice principle that I faced at eight.

Y- “What?”

J- “It’s true; now go back to ignoring me.”

My son’s version is a pragmatic woman that is taking puzzling him out as a challenge with his success her goal.

As wonderful and patient as she and his school is, they need help.

When I was his age…

I doubted the authority of the adult world.

I’d recently moved from Hawaii to Pennsylvania and was facing down a huge vice principle with a stubbornness that he couldn’t process except as a power struggle.

As an only child, I’d developed a fundamental belief in equality and fairness that did not blur with age or system appointed power.

Mother in Mexico
Mother in Mexico

The big man didn’t try to reason with me. He started with a false accusation, because I had to be guilty of something. He was right, but he didn’t know details. So he guessed, but I wouldn’t budge. So he stated a punishment, but I wouldn’t accept it. So he upped the ante and doomed his approach by calling in my mother.

She possessed a bear of a personality he couldn’t match with size or wit, and she made him apologize to me.


It was a beautiful moment, but what have I passed on to my son?

“Santa’s not real, Daddy.”

Elf in a bag
Elf in a bag, predicting a snow day

Yuri’s challenged my wife and I with an update to his seven year old reality.

No Santa. No Easter Bunny. No Tooth Fairy.

But… after a few appearances around the house. He now re-believes in Elf On The Shelf, or at least he’s allowing himself to doubt a precipice of truth.

Doing Jiu-Jitsu at forty for myself and my son

Old gi getting some new life

I dabbled a little in college but not in a formal environment, and I learned more after a few weeks at the Renzo Gracie Academy (RSA) then in all that we did twenty years before.

After a few months at RSA, I’m just starting to feel comfortable as a white belt, and the constant challenge has encouraged me to eat better and sleep more.

Most days I come home battered and bruised enough to question my commitment, but I’m doing this for Yuri as much as for me.

He’s struggling with being seven in a world that sees him as nine for his size, smarts, and bouts of maturity.

Between getting in the car to get to the bus stop two miles away and getting home after the after-school care, he has a nearly twelve hour day. It’s helpful to keep this in mind when he tests me with a tongue sharpened by nihilism.

Weather permitting, he’s going to his first RSA class this weekend. I believe he will find a balance in the challenge like I have, and I hope he’ll toughen to imperfect reality that is life without a Santa or even an elf on the shelf.

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