Challenge Coin #169
Father & Son. My 15 year old son has been struggling with school ever since his Mother and I separated last summer. He's never been extremely engaged in school, but this last year it was clear that things were heading in a wrong direction and to say I was feeling helpless is an understatement. A friend of mine and I were commiserating about it and the fact that my son was even more miserable having to make up a class in summer school.
The next time I saw my buddy he handed me the challenge coin and we sat and came up with ideas of things I could do with my son to help us get on the same page and so I could find a way to help him through it. Frankly, with the separation, most of the ideas were unattainable financially like my idea of taking a trip somewhere later this summer but, last Thursday I woke up, just called in sick from work and, on a random whim: hopped in the car, drove to Walmart, bought two cheap fishing rods, worms, a cheap inflatable kayak and then drove to his school. I had the office page him, and without telling him what was going on, I pulled him out of school and we drove straight to Percy Priest Lake.
Now the best part is that I don't fish, and perhaps as a result of that fact, neither does my son. It was pure ridiculous - it took us an hour to figure out the kayak, and then neither of us wanted to bait the hooks, and out on the water we both laughed about the prospect of popping the boat with the hooks. I let him make fun of my non-outdoorsi-ness and I hopped on the "Dad's an idiot" bandwagon a little myself, and with all of the wackiness, and while trying NOT to catch a fish while actually fishing (because neither of us wanted that smelly thing with us in a tiny boat), I realized that the perfect ingredient was kind of a metaphor in what we were doing.
We were both a couple of "fish out of water," clueless, but clueless together. I realized that we have always kind of focussed on our differences as father and son, and here was something we both could share together, "fishing while hating fishing" together, trying something neither of us ever thought about or cared about, and messing it all up together. It was ludicrously fun actually. We were really and truly on the same side, and on the same level. I weighed the moment and the maximum-1on1-acceptable-time-with-Dad factor, and figured he had a meal on the way home left in the tank, so we grabbed a quick burger, and then I dropped him off at his mom's. She may get mad at me for pulling him out of summer school to play hooky (or she may not ever find out hehe), but without much effort I think this crazy idea was the biggest leap yet toward my son trusting me a bit more, and I dare say he may actually like me a little, which is saying a lot for a teenager.
Anyway, I was told by my friend that I needed to share my story here, so here goes. I can't decide if I'm going to pass my coin on to my son, keep it, or what... Maybe I'll buy him his own so he can lay this on me one day. Maybe I'll pop back in and update on the next hilariously bad attempt to do something with him out of left field. It seems to be our ingredient. -JT