When the boys were little they loved nothing better then to “play on the floor” with Dad. Mostly this involved them dog piling on me, and me tossing them about like 20# bags of sand with four handles. And this would go on with everyone having fun until someone got hurt, which was inevitable. Then we’d tend to the wound with duct tape and bags of frozen peas, and go back into the mix.

Then a couple years ago, the frequency of this sort of play seemed to slow. They wrestled more with each other, and I was injured a lot (not game related), and maybe they were just growing up and out of that sort of thing being fun. But all of a sudden, it’s back. It’s different, but it’s back.

Actually, the tactics of my younger son are still those of the dog piling boy. And since he still doesn’t weigh much more than a 20# sandbag, the results are pretty much the same. But my older son is on the verge of teen-dom, and his tactics have changed dramatically. He is considerably stronger and is learning to use his weight and the leverage of his impossibly long limbs to his advantage. And the attitude has changed. He’s definitely feeling his oats a bit. There is a decided element of “challenging the old man” to his actions. Not in a bad way. He almost seems delighted to be repeatedly pinned, flipped, and tossed. As if there is an odd comfort in knowing that despite his growing body, he’s still not the lead dog.

It’s a cool transition, and it’s fun to see it from this side. So far. I still remember vividly the exact moment I knew I was stronger than my father. We exchanged a glance, but never spoke of it. I had always dreamed of that day when I was little, but when it came I didn’t want it to be so. And maybe by never acknowledging it, it never was. There remains comfort in not being the lead dog, even when you know you could be. And I’ve come to realize this is the basis of respect.

When his time comes, how will he handle that moment? Hell, how will I? Time will tell. Right now, I need some Motrin.

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