My son and I are quite close. And I had the pleasure of witnessing something magical the other day when he earned his Brazilian Jiu Jitsu blue belt, after two years of slaving away to get there.
I could not have been a prouder father. And it started getting me thinking about these last several years we spent together. I wanted to highlight ten memorable moments, moments that I will absolutely never forget.
I am a lucky father to have such a kid in my life.
1) The unforgettable one when our beloved pooch ran away
It was a Shabbat afternoon. Shlomo came back into the apartment frantic, after accidentally letting go of the leash while walking Frank. He ran and was nowhere to be found.
We searched for what seemed like forever.
Ultimately, the little fella came back. And then we sat down to lunch, really tense. Shlomo could not be consoled.
As I started to make kiddush, my kids and I all noticed a tear dripping down Shlomo’s face. We got up to give him the biggest hug in what was one of the warmest moments I’ll ever remember.
2) The unforgettable one with the first hug
I have hugged my son a million times in my life. But one hug eclipsed all the others.
Shlomo came to visit me in Kansas after being apart from me in Israel for a year. Over the course of that year, we progressively became extremely close, talking on the phone for hours at a time.
When I came to pick him up, the hug he gave me was next level. It felt like it was never going to end. It felt like we were clinging onto one another for dear life. Frankly, we were!
3) The unforgettable one when he showed me his empathy
A while back I found myself disturbed by a conversation I had online in some Facebook group I was on. Some awful human beings implied that a person who died in a place crash deserved his fate because he flew his private plane on the Sabbath. I was disgusted by how these people were speaking, and had quite a confrontation with a few of them.
I decided to ask my son what he thought about it. And I was so happy that he didn’t flinch when considering the event tragic. Nothing, not a single detail, could change his mind. He couldn’t see it any other way, and I felt truly proud.
A bunch of adults could sit back and claim to know and understand the world and God’s justice. A young teenager didn’t possess their arrogance. No, quite the opposite. He already understood that death and suffering were inherently awful things.
4) The unforgettable one when we fell out of some planes
I still remember it like it was yesterday. My son was afraid of roller coasters. Measly little roller coasters!
One of his Summer camp counselors pushed Shlomo hard to get him to try a really simple one. And try it he did! He then wanted to go on it again and again.
Many years later we were at Worlds of Fun going on just about every roller coaster they had.
And just a few more years after that, he shocked me when he said he was up for going skydiving. Dive #1 was incredible and extremely scary. Dive #2: Shlomo conquered the task like it was nothing.
It was such an exciting and special moment for both of us, and I’m so glad we did it together.
5) The unforgettable one when we unraveled the porpoise mystery
Way back when, my son and I were reading a novel together. It was a children’s book with pictures. The book kept on referencing porpoises. At one point he looked at me and said those weren’t porpoises; they were dolphins. I disagreed, since I had no reason to assume the book was incorrect. I told him they were very similar animals, and when he asked me what the difference was, I told him, “I have absolutely no idea.”
We then proceeded to extensively research the difference between dolphins and porpoises. In fact, we learned that everything about the book we were reading was incorrect. Both the descriptions within the book and the pictures were in fact speaking of dolphins. For the remainder of the book, he made me replace the word… since, well, truth is truth.
6) The unforgettable one when he kept me calm before my proposal
I told Shlomo I was going to propose just a short time before I planned to make it happen. I was freaking out. Part of me wanted to make time go much quicker, since it would solve my nervousness problem. But I was struggling like crazy, fully unaware in my naive little brain whether or not she would say yes.
I wandered around my living room for what felt like forever. And Shlomo just wandered around with me. He kept me sane. He kept me focused. And he prevented me from falling apart. I am forever grateful I had him with me that day.
7) The unforgettable one when we walked to my wedding
An odd fact: I loved having my children at my wedding. I know it’s twisted, because something has to go drastically wrong for that to be a reality, but it was just so incredibly special, it’s hard for me to fathom a wedding not this way.
And my son wasn’t just at the wedding. He was my best man. We spent the whole morning together, walked to the event hall together, and got ready together. And I could not have chosen a better person for the job!
It was such a beautiful thing to share with Shlomo. We are such a great team. It was so amazing having him by my side as the team expanded.I loved having my children at my wedding. I know it's twisted, but it was just so incredibly special, it's hard for me to fathom a wedding not this way. Click To Tweet
8) The unforgettable one when we shot some guns
When Shlomo came to visit me in Kansas, I had an epic two weeks planned out for us. We did so many things together, everything from movies in the park to volunteering to wall climbing. But nothing had quite the impact as taking him shooting for his first time (and second).
When I suggested the idea to him, his face just lit up like I told him he won the lottery.
And oh my goodness, was it a fun time. From start to finish, it was amazing and thrilling. We took pictures, made videos. We even, later on, made necklaces out of bullet shells. Four years later, his WhatsApp profile picture is him shooting.
Sadly, in Israel he’s too young to go shooting (he was 12 when we went in Kansas!). But I do hope to recapture that magic again one of these days. Ya know, if the army doesn’t make him sick of shooting…
9) The unforgettable one when I threw up
During the epic Kansas visit, one of our activities for the day was to go to a trial Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) class. It was fantastic. It was insanely rigorous. And it was a whole gigantic bundle of fun.
But the experience was imperfect. Toward the end, I could barely move from exhaustion. I had trouble standing and felt very faint.
And before I knew it, I was standing in front of the studio, barfing my guts out.
Apparently, I had hydrated myself very poorly. And I was by no means the first person to find myself in such a ridiculous pickle.
But we made up for it. Right afterwards we got quite the hydrated, with some delicious 7/11 Slurpees. Yeah, it was a tough evening. But at the same time, it was strangely perfect.
10) The unforgettable one when he got the blue
And who knew that just two years after my violent vomiting incident, Shlomo would start studying Jiu Jitsu in Jerusalem.
I had secretly hoped he would. But life has few guarantees.
And he quickly went from casual practitioner to obsessive master of strangling others. And a matter of days ago, I got the call that he had earned his blue belt.
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is no game. It’s not some cheesy American karate studio where they give you a belt just for showing up, maybe breaking some wood and doing some silly dance routine. To get a belt in BJJ, you need to work your ass off and prove that you are ridiculously capable.
He most certainly earned his belt. And I honestly couldn’t be more proud.
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