My friend Tyler nailed him square in the chest with a foam ball, just inches from his face.
“Chin up big guy, you’ll get it next time,” was Tyler’s sarcastic taunt. Chances are though he wasn’t going to get it next time, or the time after that, or the time after that. 10 year old boys aren’t meant to catch dodge balls thrown at them by 27 year old men from 10 feet away. In the boy’s defense, the ball wasn’t ADAA approved, which could have affected his ability to catch it. In hindsight I’m sure he’ll look back on this moment as a learning experience. Every time Tyler, or one of the 4 grown men in our group, pelted him in or near the face, his reaction time would slightly increase; slightly.
Who knows though, he could become the star of his gym class with all the skill we were throwing his way. You’re welcome kid.
Unfortunately the parents of these young men didn’t see the upside to the physical dominance of their children at the hands of grown men. This was clearly expressed with passive aggressive remarks muddled under their breath and scouring looks in the direction of my friends and I as we passed by. A complaint to the establishment’s employees was the next step.
“Those older men shouldn’t be in there with our kids! My special little boy could get hurt. It’s just not fair!”
Good thing we didn’t give a shit. As my grandpa always told me, life isn’t fair.
Let’s look at the facts:
There were two dodge ball trampoline courts at the AZ Air Time Jump Center in Phoenix. Once me and my friends started rocking out on one of them, crowds swarmed. All the kids wanted a shot at taking out the big guys. That’s awesome. And may I remind you, the balls are foam.
Kids want to be kids, and parents today want to coddle them; protect them from any and all harm. Newsflash: that’s impossible. Unless of course you lock them up in your basement forever. Although I have no kids of my own, I understand why most parents feel the irresistible need to overprotect their children; they fear they will get hurt. But honestly, come on. Let them have fun, feel joy, experience pain, laughter, excitement, confusion and anger. Allow these growing individuals to understand and feel the gamut of emotions that comprise what we know as life. They are all part of enjoying the journey. Some parents just need to let go… God, I hope I’m never like that.
It happened just the other day.
I recently joined a group called Toastmasters. It’s an organization that helps those who are interested in developing their public speaking skills. I had been a few times before and knew the routine: introduce yourself as the guest, listen to a speech, clap when others clapped, listen to the evaluators critique the speech, so forth and so on. It was a very formal engagement. As a HoboDrifter, it doesn’t really fit my style.
In the week leading up to the next meeting, I began filling my head with misleading thoughts of grandeur.
“I don’t need Toastmasters, it’s not going to prepare me for the kind of speaking I want to do.”
“I feel like a shlub every time I walk in there wearing my Wrangler Jeans. I don’t need that.”
“I can just go talk to strangers in the park or behind Tom’s Diner. That would work way better!”
The little voice inside my head was working overtime and the excuses were flowing in abundance. Each and every one was just another reason not to show up for the next meeting. At first glance they appeared to be rooted in arrogance. But upon further review, I discovered I was just scared. I feared looking like an ass. That incessant voice kept yammering in my ear how it was too risky to take that path, to take that chance, or take on that challenge. After all was said and done, what the hell could I do? It was that voice trying to protect me from rejection and disappointment. I was about to step out of my comfort zone, break my routine, and potentially grow…
It reminded me of the feeling I had just before I took off for Europe. If I could just bitch slap that little voice in my head and shut it up! It sounds so familiar too… almost like a… a… parent.
Fortunately with each spoonful of humility life always provides us with a lesson to help wash it down.
“Every time we choose safety, we reinforce fear.”
– Cheri Huber