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A Father-Son Story

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John Smith Jr.:


“But why can’t Jacob share his Google document with me?” I questioned, hinting of a loss of sense behind my parents’ decision, as I always was.
“Because his teacher is also shared to the document,” my father responded, as if that would explain everything and give me my “oh-that-makes-sense” moment.
“So?” I questioned with frustration and confusion on my father’s thoughts and responses.
“So,” he replied with certainty resonating in his voice, “the teacher will take points off your brother’s essay for another person helping him out.”
“Dad, I have been doing this for F-O-U-R years,” I said while sticking up four fingers, “and nothing has happened to me, right? Trust me. Nothing is going to happen.”
“I DON’T C-A-R-E SON. As long as my name is John Smith, I will not allow this to take place. As for the experience, buddy, I have been on this world for more than forty years, which is longer than you and your brother combined, so please don’t compete with me on that. In fact, don’t compete with me on anything.”
“But-,” I started.
“No buts. It’s final. In this house, there will be no arguing towards me.” My father paused for a split-second and then continued, “I know you may not agree with me on many things, but hopefully one day you will figure out the reason why.”
I stormed out of the living room with fury inside of me, a feeling of complete anger and frustration, as if someone had crawled into my stomach and decided to host a tribal bonfire. I walked into my bedroom and collapsed on my bed. I was trying to organize my tangled and knotted thoughts, acting like a kitten struggling to unravel a ball of yarn.
Parents. They never seem to understand. Sure, they may seem like helpers, guiders of children, guardian angels of young life. But all they have caused for me is trouble, conflict, and more trouble, all to the point where we cannot even sit at the dinner table without commenting on each others habits: my mom to me, me to my mom, my dad to me, me to my dad, and so on, like a infinite loop never wanting to end. Parents always want to help, stating the basics like “I’m always there for you” and “Yeah I can understand what you mean”,  yet the truth always seems to be the opposite. Like why do they have to impose everything on us so that things will correlate to them? Sure, some things they teach make sense, like not to eat the brown stuff that comes out of your butt and not to piss on the floor, but other things just show the nerve of parents, such as how to exactly act in public and the type of impression I should leave on others. Why can’t parents just understand that I am not just their child, but also another independent person who sooner or later will be at the liberty to do what he wants? Why can’t parents understand this, or anything else about me?
I thought more about the question, pacing up and down the room, picking up random objects from my messy floor. Damn, my room was messy, yet it provided me with a sense of order in which I knew where everything was. But my parents didn’t approve because they couldn’t understand it, constantly telling me to clean my room and even sometimes doing it themselves. Gosh, the nerve! Just the thought of that made me so angry, so frustrated, so mad, so furious, so everything! I felt like God was just stuffing me with emotions and anger, as if it was a test to see how much I could take until my head exploded. I felt the tribal dance quicken and  the bonfire grow in the depths of my chest, probably in a bronchi in my lungs or some other stupid scientific name, waiting for the finale to come and the logs to give off a bright white flame. I waited and waited and waited, each time the pace increasing with each drumbeat and each step of my foot dancing to the beat. Faster, quicker, brighter, hotter. And then it happened. I ran up to the nearest wall and punched it. I punched it and punched it and punched it. I punched it till my knuckles bled, and damn did it feel good. With each punch a new thought came to my head: my room, the Google documents, my parents, my anger, their misunderstanding, my misunderstanding, our misunderstanding. The bonfire soon however cooled to a smoke and the tribal dance had come to an end as I sat down on my bed, only to drop my head and cry.
I then realized the reason for our misunderstanding. It was not because my father, my mother, and I will not understand each other, but it is because we cannot understand each other. A man at an airport once told me that when a child leaves for college, he thinks stupid of his parents, but only once he returns from college does he realize his parents’ intelligence. Yeah right. Sure, some things never change in this world, but most of the time progress is marching and burning the fields of the past to plant new crops for the next season. My father and I are only different people because we come from different times. My father cannot understand the purpose of Google Drive, and in the future I probably won’t be able to understand the purpose of God knows what. My father did not grow up with Google, and I did not grow up with teachers who slapped childrens’ hands with rulers. I thought about every John Smith in the world who probably feels the same goddamn thing as I did, and I thought about Benedict Arnold, after whom my town is named after. Benedict probably left the U.S.A. because George Washington was probably like a hundred years older than him and couldn’t understand him. This thought bugged me, leaving me with a thirsty feeling of frustration, just pure frustration, of this fact. Why did God have to do this, to create something so fathomable and destructible as this? I was afraid of this fact, afraid of this natural order to things of the years passed and the years to come, and so I thought of this as I sat there crying, not for the truth, but rather for the lie.


John Smith Sr.:


I saw my son walk out of the living room with an expression of pure hatred, which was obviously directed to me. It was inconceivable for me to understand. I didn’t know the reason why, but just as he was walking out I had told him, “I know you may not agree with me on many things, but hopefully one day you will figure out the reason why.” It spurted out of my mouth, like it was a natural thing to do at the moment. This confused me greatly, leaving my mind strangling from a bungee jump, as if I was so close to the ground yet I could not touch it. It seemed as if God made me say this statement at that exact moment, and now he probably expects me to ponder about it. I sat down on my living room chair, lighted a pipe, and watched the graceful smoke as I traced my thoughts thinking to myself that I need to find out the reason why.
John had changed so much. “You better watch out, they grow fast” others would say to me, and I would respond back with a general nod. But it just surprised me at how fast the years have passed. I still remember when John would listen to anything I told him, even when I said that babies came from God as each individual gifts to a couple. But now he is so different. He won’t even listen to me when I tell him to sit up straight. What happened? What changed? All I am doing is trying to help him, trying to aid him, trying to make him reach his full potential. After all, with forty years of experience under my belt, it is in the end I who knows more. Forty years of experience - that was not a stroll in the park to acquire. It is I who has seen more, who can predict the outcome of events before they even occur, and who can defeat evil and promote goodness through my foresight. I do all of this not just for my benefit, but for the benefit of others, especially for my son. But why does he not realize this? I believe he cannot see that I work for the greater good, and thus he believes that he must retaliate at every single thing I say, all to leave me at dissapointment. It just frustrated me greatly that I was not able to get through my son, not able to make him understand. I felt so frustrated that I just wanted to cry. I felt like a failure, a failure as a moral being and a failure as a father to my son. Yet I decided not to cry, but to instead think it through, and as I did this, the past flooded my mind.
With experience also comes memories, and with memories comes knowledge. I remembered the same things happening with my father and I, with whom as I got older we both kept disagreeing and arguing, all to the point where now my son does not even know him. I remember the days when he did not understand me, and I did not understand him. I then saw the connection as it hit my head like a baseball - and I actually know what that feels like. The problem was not only with John, nor was it only with me, but rather the problem rested with both of us together. My son cannot understand me, and I cannot understand my son. We come from different time periods: I from the Paleolithic Age and he from the Neolithic Age, and it is because of this that we cannot understand each other. I remember the word now - generational conflict, a term which I had learned in my English class many years ago. It is the natural way of things: for one generation not able to understand another. It happened with my forefathers, and my father, and will happen with my descendants yet to come. It was this one word, generational conflict, which resonated through my mind as I sat there thinking about my son.




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