In many ways my boy are I are a lot different. He’s a young strong thing, and I’ve got some age on me and I’m well, let’s say, distinguished. He rebuilds hot rod engines and I take my truck to “the man” for regular service. He flies helicopters and I get motion sickness on the Tilt-A-Whirl.
But in many ways we are the same. A long time ago I read the best thing you could do to raise a boy was treat his mama with respect. He’s not a bit afraid to greet you with a hug around the neck and tell her (or me) he loves you.
I used to tell him, “Son, you can run faster than me and jump higher; you’re stronger and can outdrive me fifty yards on the golf course. But, there’s one thing you’ll never catch up with me in- WISDOM!” He’d act like it made him mad, but he went along. It wasn’t true, but he knew you have to give the old man credit for something besides just paying the bills.
We played a lot of golf together when he was growing up. Neither of us were into the fancy places, but preferred these beat-up little munis where they had the “serve yourself” hot dogs on a rotary contraption in the pro shop right behind the golf glove display. I covered the costs, (I figure the kids are just starting out and it’s a treat for them to get to do some fun stuff) but we had a standard bet; if I out-drove him even once in the round he had to pay for the hot dogs.
By the time my son was fifteen he could out-drive me forty yards. At first he’d carry on about it, but after a couple of years it was clear the torch had passed and he’d semi-apologize. I guess he began to realize time wasn’t go turn backwards, and it wasn’t ever gonna be the same again. It got to where he didn’t brag anymore, but instead I’d notice he’d ask if my last check up was okay. By the time he was twenty it was rare for me to collect on the hot dog bet.
About a decade ago we played his home course in the mountains. He pounded it all day. (It’s hard to keep up with a young’un who hits a five iron 200 yards.) The last hole was a short par four; only 300 yards.
“I drove the green last week,” he said. He rared back and hit a high draw. It was pretty solid, but he caught it in the toe a bit. It landed in the rough and stopped on two bounces about 275 yards out.
I surveyed the situation. The hole was downhill, and it had been a dry summer. I tapped the ground with my foot. The grass crinkled under my shoe, and the ground was hard. Hm. Might get some roll. I teed it up and waited just a moment. A breeze came up at our back. I took my chance, bowed up, and gave it all I had. It was my best hit all summer. The ball flew about 250 with a low hook, then began to bounce. One, two, three, four; it kept trickling along the dry ground down the hill. We couldn’t tell.
We walked down there and sure enough I’d gotten by him about two feet. He laughed like a small child. As soon as we holed out he tore off for the pro shop and got out his wallet. “Two hot dogs all the way,” he said. As I walked in he pointed me out. “See that gray-haired rascal? He out-drove me on eighteen. Can you believe that?”
The pro smiled. You know what I said about wisdom? Dang if the boy ain’t catching up with me in that too. The good news is he’s smart and doesn’t tell anyone. You’ve got to give the old man in the family something to hang onto. One of these fine days I’m gonna catch one just right and out-drive him again; just you wait and see.