Sunday, 19 July 2015

Hit it with a hammer

Thursday June 11th #11

I was thinking, today, about patience. Actually I was really thinking about a time when I hit my dad, accidentally with a golf club.

The Benedict's are, amongst other things, known for a quick temper and a little bit of impatience. As you will be a Benedict this is probably an important piece of information. Most of the time, your mum is very calm so there is a chance you might have just the right balance. There again she can be fiery too so if you get a bit of that from both of us, It's quite likely that you're going to be, well, let's say passionate at the very least.

My dad is a golfer. I never really took to it. There was never enough action for me, there's too much standing about and I could never quite work out how you knew where you were supposed to aim.

Anyway, when you're little and you're growing up you sometimes get opportunities to visit parts of the adult world you don't normally get to see. Maybe you get to go work with your mum or dad. Or maybe you just hang out with them whilst they do their thing.

To some extent, in those situations, you're probably meant to be seen and not heard. But that's okay. It's a bit like spying.

A few times I got to caddy for my dad. I quite liked the golf club. It was kind of in the middle of nowhere and a bit like another world with different rules and special clothes and secret rooms like the nets and the locker room.

I think my dad liked having me there too. It was like our secret time together. When you're here we'll do loads of things together as a family but there will also be times when you nip out with your mum or nip off with me and we'll have lots of secret adventures. Though probably not at the golf club.

So we were out on the golf course and I was watching my dad. I didn't know how he was playing because I didn't understand the rules of golf yet. And this is the thing about life. There are lots of different types of rules. There are easy and obvious rules. There are rules set by the police. And there are other rules which you have to figure out as you go along.

At some point I decided to swing the golf club my dad had just handed me to put back in his bag. I think what happened next could be blamed on my dad. I didn't know the rules, no one had explained them to me and as yet my common sense radar hadn't quite kicked in. Maybe he should have told me, explained how golf worked. Maybe I should have been a bit more aware of what was going on and more particularly who was standing near me.

I'd had a few golf lessons, so pretending I was a professional golfer, I teed myself up and swung the club, ready for hole in one. What I didn't know was that my dad was standing right behind me, close enough to feel the full force of my back swing.

I can remember that he just about managed to protect his face with his hands as I cracked him with the club. And it must have hurt. It must have really hurt. I can't really remember what he said but I can remember the colour of his face and the look that passed across it. I could pretty much see all the words he wanted to release and hear all the things he was going to say and I didn't really have any defence. Sorry didn't seem to quite fit or prevent or heal what I had just done. I wanted to run away and hide but there was nowhere to go.

Somehow my dad managed to control that Benedict temper that I mentioned earlier. His face remained a kind of crimson but with a skill I don't think I've seen before or since, he kept all the swear words and curse words inside his head. He maybe mumbled something about looking around before you swing a club but I don't ever remember him mentioning it again. He got on and played his golf. I wasn't in trouble even though I must have hurt him. Coming to think of it though, I'm not sure I ever caddied for him again.

And this is what parents do for their children. This is what he did for me and what we'll do for you. We know what it was to be young, me and your mum. We know what it's like when everything is new and you wonder, what'll happen if I do this, or what happens if I put this into that and hit it with a hammer, without even considering that there might be consequences.

When I was little I tried to take a ship out of a bottle and a sea horse out of a piece of amber. On both occasions I ended up with nothing and wished I hadn't done it but this is how we explore the world. This is the way we learn. Even if sometimes we have to learn it twice.

And you will do silly things and you will make mistakes. And you might hurt us accidentally or on purpose. Whatever you do, me and your mum, we'll be there for you. To dust you off, to pick you up, to put you back on track and help you understand the rules of this funny little world.

You will have to learn to be accountable for your actions, to recognize your mistakes, own up when you've done wrong. These are all parts of life. Maybe the most important lesson is that when it all goes wrong, or feels like it has, which can happen so easily, when everything inside screams and your instincts make you want to run away and hide,  it's nearly always best to face what's happened. Most of the time, nothing is quite as bad or as broken as it seems.

I got your grandma to show your granddad this bit. My dad says he forgives me as time heals all wounds. This is what happens to your sense of humour when you get older.  In the grand scale of things, it won't be too long until I'm saying things like that to you. And that's a very strange thought for me to hold in my head.