Clenched Fists

I wrote a while back that, for my birthday, I gifted myself a membership to the UFC Gym.
To my credit, I’ve been regularly going to the 6am classes. That’s right: I get my non-morning ass up at 530a to get to the gym by 6a t0 take the kickboxing and boxing classes.
Truth be told, I’ve been really enjoying it.

(Whenever I hit the bag, I’m reminded of this:

… but sometimes, the bags do hit back… )

For a while, I noticed that my thumbs begin to feel real sore by the end of the kickboxing (or boxing) class.
I just figured that the gloves weren’t quite broken in.
One Wednesday morning class (which usually is a low turn out class), it ended up being just me and another person — who always leaves 15 minutes early to get to work. So that meant the last 15 minutes was just me and the coach. Which really sucks, because I can’t take seconds off to catch my breath when he’s working with someone else. All of his attention is on me. Yay. He ended the class 5 minutes early and I’m pretty sure it was because he felt sorry for me struggling to the core exercises for our usual “cool down” period. I put it in quotes because ain’t nothing cooling down.

Since it was just the two of us, I figured now’s the best time to ask, “Hey, my thumbs hurt after every class. Am I doing something wrong or is it the gloves or a bit of both?”

He looked at me and he said, “When you’re not punching, what are you doing with your hands? Are they clinched in a fist?”
“Like, tight?”
“Yea…” (I thought that was fairly logical– like of course they’re balled into a fist. I’m about to hit the bag that weighs almost as much as I do — But I had a sinking feeling I was doing something wrong).
“Well, that’s why. You’re clenching the whole time. When you’re not punching the bag, open them up. Tighten that fist right before you hit the bag.”

See, at that moment I realized that those words weren’t directed to my non-existing boxing skills.

He was speaking to my soul.

There are so many areas in my life where I’m just clenching the whole time, holding tight to everything. Which probably is making my TMJ worse.

I could take this post in so many directions — and I may revisit this thought in other posts — but for now, my thoughts are circling in on N.

Can a parent ever stop worrying?

It doesn’t help that I am a worrier to begin with.

All the worrying can lead to controlling — holding tight to everything around him and us. Maybe I’d find sanity if I kept him in a bubble.
But what kind of life would that be for him?

A part of me says that I wouldn’t be as worried  if my boy was “typical.” But the rational part of me says that I’d be just as worried, just over different things.

One evening, I was putting him into bed. My wife was at a meeting and I was feeling pretty tired. When we finished his bedtime story book (the same book for the umpteenth time), I realized that it was only 7pm. (Bedtime is 730p). I kinda felt bad that he was going to bed so early, so I decided to ask him questions to see what he can answer.

“Are you a boy or a girl?”
“I boy.”

“Is Mommy a boy or a girl?”
“Mommy girl.”

“Is Daddy a boy or a girl?”
“Daddy girl.”

“Is Daddy boy or a girl?”
“Daddy girl.”

…I couldn’t help but flashback to all the times kids made fun of me by calling a girl. To which led to the thoughts, “that’s not going to be an insult in our house.”

“What did you do in school?”

“Okay. Who are your friends at school?”
“(Main teacher’s name) and (Special ed teacher’s name).”

I can’t tell you how much that just wrenched my heart. Ugh.

I started thinking about all the stories of special needs kids who throw birthday parties in their older age and no one coming to them.
Or that story of the FSU player, Travis Rudolph, whose team was at a middle school and during lunch he saw a boy eating by himself and so Travis sat and ate with him. Turns out, the boy is autistic and usually eats lunch by himself all the time. Someone asked him what it felt like having Travis sit and eat with him. “It felt like I was sitting on a rainbow.”

There’s this (natural) urge to protect him from all the ways he can possibly get hurt. But honestly, what good is that going to do for him in the long run, if I try to protect him from all the bad things that could possibly happen? And nobody, and I mean nobody, likes a helicopter parent.

But I worry/wonder:
Will he be able to make friends? With kids his age?
Will he be self-supporting and self-sustaining?
Will he go to college? And/or get a job?
Will he turn out okay?
Will he be a decent human being?
Will he end up becoming a jerk? And how much of that will be because of me?

But those are “later” questions/events.
There’s a here and now to take care of; to be aware of, rather than worrying over things that haven’t happened yet.

And right now, right here — there’s a light in him that shines so brightly, it warms the heart of people.

I learned that in boxing, you can’t prevent from getting hit. The question isn’t “if” but “when” one gets hit. You learn to roll with the punches. (Which reminds me of the Mike Tyson quote that has nothing to do with what I’m writing about, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.”)

Meaning — this world has a unique way of hurting you and breaking you. I can’t prevent him from ever getting hurt or disappointed or heart-broken. Nothing good will ever come out of me clenching my proverbial fists and trying to control and micromanage everything and everyone around N, all the time. There will be times to tighten up my hands and there will be times when they need to be relaxed. And hopefully wisdom will help discern when to do what.
But why waste my time, energy, and sanity stressing over things that haven’t happened yet. We’ll roll with the punches that come our way. Some will simply glance off, others may knock us on our asses, leaving marks. We’ll get up each time, stronger. But that’s for later.

For now — in the here and the now, we take moments to be grateful of how special this little boy is and how far he has come as an individual and how far we have come as a family. Right now, we work hard and pray hard to ensure that light of his will continue to shine brightly no matter what life throws at us.

And, literally here and now, we take a few seconds to watch a boy who simply loves life and loves to dance

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