This dad took a plunge and flipped things around

At a party at our community pool, one of my main mates DJ did a flip with a backward cannonball off the high dive. Then Rogai pulled off a flip off the low dive. Now DJ and Rogai are both jocks, but they’re a decade or two past their primes. Since I’m also a jock a minute or two past my prime, I figured I’d try it, too. Off the low dive I went, and I pulled off a perfect flip.

Believe me, if you’d asked me 10 minutes before if I’d ever consider flipping off the board, I would’ve made a goofy joke and jumped in feet first. But considering peer pressure and feeling unexpectedly courageous, I took that leap of faith and immediately flashed forward to being in the next (Senior) Olympic Trials.

Wanting to show off my newly found skill, I spotted KD, my nine year old, a hundred or so feet away and called out, “Hey Duff, check me out.” He turned, waved, smiled, and went back to running around with his mates. He missed my flip, so I just carried on with DJ and Rogai. After a little while, DJ’s wife “Amanda” came up with the idea that we should do a fundraiser called “Dads flip for literacy.” It seemed like a great idea, and we practiced until we were (literally) black and blue.

The next day I thought about why I’d called out to KD. I could come up with all sorts of explanations, but when it came down to it, I wanted him to be proud of me. I’ve done a solid job as his father, but most of it is everyday stuff. As an infant, I changed his diapers. I fed him. I got up with him at night when he was coughing and needing a steam. I cleaned up his puke. Etc.  Nowadays, we play chess. We play Monopoly, which, (along with Chutes and Ladders and Candyland,) is the most tedious game ever. We play sports inside and toss the ball around outside. We clean stuff together. We BBQ together. I think it’s regular but important stuff for me to teach KD.  Flips, on the other hand, seem dynamic, crazy and cool.

Now it’s natural for parents to be proud of our kids and let them know. KD works really hard in school and gets good grades. I let him know how proud I am that he gives his best effort. KD works really hard to be good at sports. I tell him how proud I am to see him practice and be a good teammate. I also tell him how much I love him because he’s kind and nice to his peers and adults. If you know KD, you know he’s a great kid. I’m proud of him.

But is it kind of weird that I want KD to be proud of me? Am I being immature? Am I being emotionally selfish? Is it somehow “wrong?” I honestly didn’t know.

I got my answer a week or so ago, when I spoke with my father.  Short version, he has received a “bucket list” honor, and even though I felt a bit awkward saying it, I told him how proud of him I am and how I’m proud to be his son. It felt like the right things to say. So, if it isn’t weird for me to be proud of my father, I guess it’s not a leap to want KD to be proud of me.

Maybe flips don’t impress him, but a few days later, I got a little taste of how he feels. While walking down the street with a pal from his friend group, I heard him bragging that I’d been called up from the minors to the majors when I was 10. Apparently, that’s a big deal in Little League. Flipping at (almost) 50 is nothing. The majors at 10 is…

For now, this therapist, spouse, father and son goes through life doing flips off the low board and doing the best I can.

Until next time…

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