The microwave goes off telling me that my potato is done so I butter it up, add some salt and walk toward the living room. There I find middle daughter bothering oldest daughter’s boyfriend on proper use of a plastic knife for self defense. Middle daughter insists that the plastic knife should be held blade to the outside of the hand and drawn straight up. Oldest daughter’s boyfriend, who has a black belt in some something or another and attends mixed martial arts tournaments as a hobby, tries in vain to tell her that she should strike from the side, an uppercut is too easy to block and renders the blade useless (that, plus, it increases the chance of dropping it or having it knocked out of your hand).
Ah, kids these days, with their gray plastic fighting knives stippled in black and white paint to resemble pitted steel or aged concrete. Why must they fight? What do they need to know of these things? It’s TV I tell ya, watching too many Yu-Gi-Oh, Dragon Ball Z and One Piece episodes. Even after banning such tripe in our house the maddness continues in video game form and play acting with their friends.
So I stand there watching the commotion for a little while, quietly munching on a baked potato skin. When the oldest daughter’s boyfriend tires of the arguement the middle daughter turns to me.
– Sigh –
I love all children, I really do, I just wish they were the same sponge at 14 as they were at 8. Back then I could tell them something and it would stick. Back then my 33 years of experience meant something. Now of course, it all means nothing. Even as middle daughter swings at me several times trying to upper cut me with the plastic knife and I deftly block each and every attempt while continuing to snack on a butter soaked salted tuber, I feel my authority challenged. Alas, it’s time to break out the guns, it’s time for…
The Most Effective Martial Arts Move Ever Happy Joy Luck.
Once upon a time I took it upon myself to study Aikido. I focused mainly on the philosophy and principals but entertained myself with some swordsmanship. Three starting positions, five cuts, one thrust, no defense - most duels last a few seconds so there is no time for defense. The goal in Aikido is to end the conflict as quickly as possible to minimize suffering for all. If my opponant is trying to slay me then it is my duty to prevent damage to his karma by preventing it, even if I have to slay him first to protect him. I have no belt or degree. There are no starchy pajamas. Just a student of philosophy and principal who once enjoyed meditating with motion while practicing basic maneuvers.
Which brings us to my kitchen, last night, hovering over the steaming starchy goodness in my bowl.
“Perhaps you would like me to teach you the Most Effective Martial Arts Move Ever Happy Joy Luck?”
“Sure” my daughter said, lowering the plastic knife and positioning herself for attack. She was relaxed and balanced, totally focused on her center. Her Chi was pegging at the red end of the gauge.
“Are you sure you’re ready?” I asked.
“Bring it on old man.” she replied.
So I prepaired myself. I drew from the inner well of energy all that I had in me and focused it upon my center. The muscles and ligaments in my legs tensed for recoil and every part of my being dedicated itself for what I was about to do.
I stepped forward.
Walked past my daughter and toward my room, a bowl full of fluffly buttery goodness in hand.
“So when are you going to show me this awesome move?” My loved one asked impatiently.
“I already have, the best fight is one you walk away from.” With that I bowed slightly, took a bite of potato and stepped into my room.
She stood there for a moment, scratching her head and finally I heard her shout “Coward.”
Perhaps. Perhaps I am a coward. If so then what does it matter? Who do I hurt by walking away from a fight? What will pride get me? Nothing good comes from it, there are no zero sum fights but there can be zero sum conflicts. This is what I tried to teach my precious angel.
Instead she decided to stop playing with the plastic knife and go back to the DS. Oh well, I take comfort from where it comes and leave pride for the young and arrogant.
It was a very satisfying potato.