Rumors to the contrary 🙂 I’m not a violent person. Given the choice, I’d rather watch waves on a beach than mixed martial arts combat, rather see couples practice their public displays of affection than overhear a couple yelling at each other through an open window. I’m not afraid of conflict when it finds me, but I certainly don’t seek it out.
Part of that is related to some bullying incidents earlier in my life, but a lot of it is simply a reflection that I think most people are peaceful and non-violent at heart. I mean, would you prefer arguing with your kids and getting angry or playing a game with them and sharing a laugh and some bonding time? Yeah, I thought so.
And yet the latest addition to Chez Taylor this weekend is a boxing setup, courtesy of my son G-‘s accumulated gift cards and Dick’s Sporting Goods being the right store at the right time with the right display. We even jammed the (unassembled, don’t worry) bag and stand in the back of the SUV with a full-size cello. A tight fit, but what a perfect metaphor for the curious nature of life as a parent.
Truth be told, I have zero tolerance for my children hitting each other or hitting other kids (other than playful sparring or scuffles, which I think are healthy and necessary if they’re not overwhelming to either party). They can hit me, but hey, I hit back (gently, don’t worry). A life lesson.
Nonetheless life can be frustrating and sometimes there is upset, anger — even fury — that builds up inside and whether you’re 10, 18 or 50, where does it go? What do you do when that energy is boiling inside of you? I’ve learned to take it to the gym and sweat it out so I can get back to a healthy mental state, but for my children, learning how to deal with these emotional tsunamis is a tremendous lesson.
And so we’re now the proud owners of an Everlast boxing bag and heavy-duty stand that just barely fits in our basement room. Now we officially have something that they can kick, punch, smack and yell at, without any dire consequences. Maybe even a baseball bat in extreme cases, but I’m not sure the bag can handle it.
The most entertaining part of this whole experience was that G-, my 13yo son actually survived having his little sister K- help us assemble the unit. It was a fine example of why something like this can be so healthy: He kept grumbling at her about wanting to keep the unit pristine as we assembled it and she basically ignored him, as is her wont. By the time we had it built, he was primed to fly at it and get that frustration out with a flurry of kicks and punches. Subsequently, the two of them were more mellow with each other than I’d seem them the entire weekend.
Score: Dad: 1. Boxing bag: 1. Hostile kids: 0.
We’ll see how it plays out, but for now, this is something I’ve thought about getting for the kids for quite a long time, since before the divorce even. Because whatever the household dynamics, children get mad and it’s up to us parents to not just tell them how to deal with those emotions, but demonstrate through our own behavior how adults channel anger, frustration, stress, disappointment, etc.
Speaking of which, where are those gloves…?
There are lots of problems with boxing: creating aggressive humans, like Mike Tyson, and brain stem injuries just to name just a couple. The blood sport of UFC, a marrying of martial arts and boxing–without the rules that make boxing ‘humane’– in which refs allow fighters to continue savaging each other even after they are bloodied is Really Sick: so much so it makes boxing look like ballet.
I hope that when you titled your piece “why I’m getting my kids into boxing,” you really meant, “…venting on a punching bag” rather than “boxing.” A former welterweight pro, a savage who, after a bloody fight, wore a man’s ear around his neck on a chain until it dried and fell off, told me that most people when they hit someone in a fight expect that person to fall away and not come back at them. It’s a natural aversion to pain that most people share. He said the boxer does not fall away but steps into the fight, toward the pain, not away from it, stepping into the punch and giving it back hard. Savagely hard. There are some muscles that should never be developed in a person who considers himself/ herself civilized and that is the hate and savagery and conquest of blood sport. Punching bags don’t punch back, the way people do.