There are many books about motherhood and baby raising philosophies, but only a handful are written from the male perspective, about fatherhood. My eldest son, Arnon, gave me a book named “Intellectual Fatherhood” by Eli Katz PhD, a clinical psychologist, expert in fatherhood and adolescence. I read it eagerly.

Listen to this small and personal story from the book:

I always knew that my father loves me very much but in my experience as a child there wasn’t a moment in our home that my learning problems weren’t discussed. It is not that I didn’t want to be a “good child”, I wanted it very much. At the beginning of each school year I promised myself that this year I’ll be the diligent pupil that my father wants me to be, but unfortunately my head was always someplace else.

I was holding the position of a goalkeeper in one of the major youth soccer teams in Jerusalem, but even this place, my life-line, was threaten by my studies and the tutoring I was forced to take by my father. One day, I think as a punishment for a letter that my parents received from one of the teachers, my father decided to stop my participation in the team’s soccer practices. And I, in an adamant fight to remain sane, lied during many years, and kept going to practice and to the weekend games – telling him that I’m studying with an imaginary friend. I hated myself for lying to my father. It felt bad to wound our love and connection and I knew that he will be extremely hurt if he would find out that I had been lying. On the other hand, I knew that you can’t stand equal to your father when you are in the 5th-6th grade, and I simply couldn’t give up soccer.

Eli Katz graduated from high-school, and then moved to the US seeking for a higher education. He finished his PhD in psychology, got married, had 3 kids and finally moved back to Israel. He continues to tell:

A few years ago I was wandering around in one of Jerusalem’s famous markets and met a man that looked familiar to me. He approached me, reminded me that his name is Mordechai and that he used to work with my father when I was a child.

“I remember you as a great goalkeeper,” he said with enthusiasm, and I smiled embarrassedly to my wife but, I’ll admit, also with some pride.

“You know,” he continued, “I once told your father that I saw you playing in one of the games of  the “Beitar Jerusalem” soccer club and since then every weekend we went together to cheer for you. But until this present moment I don’t understand why your father insisted to hide in the back of the stadium and asked me to keep the fact that we are going to your games as a top secret between us.”

He hugged me and left and I thought to myself that here, especially in this story, there is something sad, a kind of a small tragedy that pin points the hurting fluffs of life.

My father loved me and our mutual love was never doubtful. My childhood was also quite happy in general. And this is exactly the tragedy, because despite the “big picture” my parents practically “lost me”. For about 10 years I run away to America and I was quite successful disconnected from my father. When I think about him today I feel very sad. At the time that my father could easily, and deservingly, enjoy my success and harvest the fruits of his investment – actually then, the tiny mistakes he made prevented him from enjoying it.(“Intellectual Fatherhood”, by Eli Katz PhD – Translated by me to English)

Let this story serve as food for thought to all the fathers among us regardless of the age of our children, especially to those whose parenthood is mistake-free…

I wish us all a fruitful new school year,
Fireworks (37)
Shuka, Thursday, September 3, 2009

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