Late last night, before everyone went to bed, I arm wrestled my soon-to-be-15-year-old nephew.
It was a strange feeling, I must admit. I’m quite certain at some point in every parent’s life, he/she experiences a passing of the torch. The first time you lose to your son in one on one in the driveway. The first time your daughter hits a softball over the fence you can’t quite reach. The first time your kid is more technologically savvy; the first time your kid is more mathematically inclined; the first time your kid can do the gymnastic flip that long eluded you. Whatever the case, it’s off-putting. And weird. And, I think, a bit damaging.
Jordan isn’t my son. He’s my nephew; the son of my sister-in law. But the wife and I have always referred to him as our “first born.” I’ve been in his life since his arrival in 2000. He calls me “Uncle Jeffie.” I’ve watched him (and, I hope, helped him in some small ways) grow from infant to toddler to kid to young man. I’m very proud of him, and am excited to see what he goes on to accomplish and see and do.
But … still.
Jordan is a competitive rock climber. He’s in crazy shape; lean and muscular like active kids his age tend to be. I’m a 43-year-old writer. I go to the gym regularly, but more to stay in shape than accrue muscle and mass. In other words, he should have beaten me. But, um, I didn’t expect it.
Leah (my sister-in-law) said, “Go!”
I figured I’d let him start fast, then flip the switch and pin him.
Well, he started fast …
Pop! Whop! Bam!
And here I am.
But—and this is a big but—the strange factor is an unexpected one: After the dust cleared and my ego bruising healed, I was, well, proud. My nephew is a great kid. A great smart kid. A great smart strong kid. Hell, this is just the beginning of he and his brother Isaiah and my kids, Casey and Emmett, kicking my old ass in all sorts of things. Surely, baseball and basketball are soon to follow. Maybe they’ll write better books. Travel to cooler places. Meet more interesting people. Discover things I’d never dreamed of.
That’s nothing to hang a head over.
It’s how it should be.