You’ll get there, champ

It took some tough love from his son to get this dad on the path to good health

Riley Hunt says, you got this. Photo Credit Angela Jacques

The world is often a place of harsh truths. Like many parents, I do my utmost to cushion the hard times in my son’s life.  For him, those tough times stem from scholastic endeavours.

Failed a test? No problem, champ! It’s just one test, right? Couldn’t finish the writing assignment because four-letter words are hard? Well, sure they’re hard! Twice as hard as two-letter words, in fact! You’ll get it eventually. No problem, champ!

His mother takes a firmer hand with him. Failed a math test? Well, you wouldn’t have failed it had you spent more time studying and less time playing video games. No more video games until you pass the next test. Couldn’t finish the writing assignment? Well, if you’d spent more time writing at home like we discussed instead of reading Garfield comics, you’d have aced that assignment.  No more Garfield until you can write in paragraphs.

Sometimes the best thing you can do for those you love is to be brutally honest with them, something that’s proven difficult for me during my career as a dad.

Until recently.

A few months ago, my son claimed to be sick, so we kept him home.  Imagine my surprise when he was miraculously better mere moments after I called the school to inform them he’d be absent. When I told him to turn the computer and music off, his response floored me.
“But Dad!  I want to play online with my friends!”

I snapped.

“Riley! It’s not even 9 a.m. on a school day!  Your friends aren’t online! They’re in class. Dumbass.” I didn’t think before I spoke. That’s on me. He furrowed his brow and called me rude.

I doubled down.  “It’s not rude if it’s true. Sometimes buddy, tough love is the best love.”
He then got a certain look about him. He had something to say but was weighing whether it was worth the punishment.

He decided it was.  He narrowed his eyes and said: “Oh. Good to know … fat ass.”

For those concerned, he survived the conversation, but only because I didn’t have the energy to chase him up a flight of stairs.  Stairs are even harder than four-letter words.

They didn’t used to be.  Pre-COVID, I had a very active lifestyle.  At the office, I’d climb a dozen flights of stairs twice a day because stairs tended to be quicker than the elevator.

I’d also hit the gym four times a week.  Two of those days would see me play full court basketball for an hour at a time. I easily kept pace with those half my age.
But that was literally years ago. Since COVID, I’ve developed a sedentary lifestyle.  I hadn’t really noticed how much weight I’ve gained. 
But I should have. Nothing fits comfortably anymore and I get winded just walking to the bus stop.  Had my kid not pointed out how there was more to me now than before, I wouldn’t have noticed how unhealthy I’ve been.
I made the conscious decision to hit the gym at least twice a week, which I’ve been more or less doing for the past few months.
I have more energy these days and some of my older clothes almost fit, an accomplishment I was quite proud of until my son walked in while I was trying on a shirt that proved to be too tight.  He smiled at me, patted my belly and said, “You’ll get it eventually, champ.”