Fridays are Fight Night at the fencing club. After the one hour lesson, students take turns fencing each other until the pizza arrives at 9 pm.
Some Fridays, my boys take themselves there and back, and we just get the highlights when they come home.
Some Fridays I need the car, and the boys get dropped off. Later, their father or I comes along to bring them home. Yesterday, I had a meeting, so I dropped them off and afterward returned. It was early, and one boy really wanted that pizza. I didn’t mind hanging around a bit and watching them bout.
The boys ended up facing each other. There was my oldest son, almost a man, dressed all in white, with longish hair and a thin, blond growth of fuzz on his upper lip, shaking his hair off his face as he aligned his mask to slide it over his head. Be still my heart. My memory recalls that young man with whom I fell in love – young, longish hair, blond moustache, captain of the college fencing team. Where did my little boy go?
There was my second son, getting tall, but still scarecrow thin. Even when he was tiny, I thought he looked like his dad when suited up for fencing. So jovial as he faced his brother. It was a friendly match – they were having fun, not desperate to prove themselves and win the bout. The older boy won, of course, but it didn’t matter.
They found different partners – one fencing a younger girl who was thrilled to beat him by a few touches, the other barely beating an old man, despite a huge margin half-way through the bout. Then came the pizza, and their attention was diverted to the filling of their stomachs.
I sense that we are on the cusp of change in this last half year with my oldest child. Even if he stays with us for a bit after high school, the dynamics will be altered as he sets off on his own path, independent from us. I relish these last few months of his childhood, where he, still a child, plays knight with his little brother, sparring in their own imaginary realm but in reality on a fencing strip in a club with spectators. I look forward to his manhood, which I glimpse through the mesh of his fencing mask on that fuzzy face so familiar, yet so unique.