Have you ever gotten a wedgie? And loved it? Or had someone stick your head in the toilet…andyou came up with a wet head and a smile?
I was watching Charlie Sheen on Two And A Half Men tonight when one of the characters made this very claim. See, he plays the little brother of the main character. He went into hilarious detail about how his big brother twice tried to trade him for an underwater flashlight. And how he remembers his brother shaving his head and then shoving the hair into his mouth. Torture? Not by a long shot.
While this is a comedy and the scene was intended as such, there was true pain behind the memories. Not for the pain or embarassment, but because he(the little bro) actually looked forward to the beatings and put-downs. It was, sadly, the only attention he got from his hero, his big brother.
A few weeks ago, I was a witness to this kind of scenario. Well, sort of. In question was a 45 year old man and his 70 year old father. Over the course of the dinner, I heard the son say, “Whatdaya thinkk, Dad? Should I get the 45″ plasma TV?” Seriously, folks, I heard this question posed three times over the span of a single meal.
What’s going on here?, I wondered. Then, after watcyhing a few more interactions, it was apparent(to my untrained ear, at least) the son was just longing for paternal approval. Again, this is a 45 year old man, not some 12 year old kid. Father and son, not big and little brother.
We are all looking for approval from our heros. Anyone we admire, sure, we want to know they recognize and appreciate our efforts, right? When I realized these facts a few years ago, I made a strong effort to see who(if any) people looked up to me. I found them…at camp. Usually high school students who needed some guidance. I had no desire at the time to be a father figure, but maybe a big brother? Yeah, I could handle that. And with that role comes the responsibility of being engaged in those lives in a positive manner. No wedgies, no swirlies, but maybe a good conversation here and there, and a good example for a kid to look up to. If I’ve done that for even one person, then I’ve lived a pretty fulfilled life.