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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Parent (11/16/06)

TITLE: Walls
By Brad Paulson
11/21/06


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When you were a baby, you took comfort in my arms. I could feel contentment flooding through your tiny body as I held you. Safety and security were the two things you wanted from me, and I loved providing them. Your world was so small and I was so big. Although you could not yet speak, we never had trouble communicating. The texture of my beard and the strength of my embrace soothed you. You needed me.

Little boys love to wrestle and as you grew, I was your favorite opponent. Against the bigger, stronger adversary you always emerged triumphant. One of my greatest joys was letting you win, then watching you revel in your victory. Sometimes we got a little too rough, heads bumped together, a stray elbow in the ribs. You always knew we would stop if it hurt. You trusted me. If you cried, I held you and told you it was okay. As soon as you had your wits about you, I would launch another attack, tackling and tickling you. Crying was something to overcome, something only little boys did. Big boys were tough and part of my job was to help you become a big boy. I suppose you started building the wall then, something to hide behind so I wouldnít see you cry.

Football is for big boys, and I wanted you to love and understand the game. We played for hours under the weekend sun. I couldnít let you when all the time, preparation for team sports had begun. Honing skills and toughening-up were the main objectives. Bumps and bruises were as common as clouds in the sky. You didnít cry anymore, at least I didnít see you. More bricks were added to the wall, peering over the top, I could see you hiding.

Highschool boys need to challenge their fathers. They question their authority, even their intelligence. You were no different. Perhaps I should have let you win once in a while, but I suffer from the same pride you do. I allowed you to make mistakes just so you would suffer the consequences, part of becoming a man. Sometimes I would add to the consequences, giving the lesson a lasting impact. My authority was steadfast and firm. You couldnít win anymore. The walls were beginning to surround you. I was on the outside, but the walls werenít completely impenetrable. Bricks were missing here and there and, on occasion, I could catch a glimpse of the little boy inside.

College produced the young man I had always prayed for. Bright and handsome, the world was there for the taking. Our ideas regarding relationships and business decisions did not always match up. Advice was often seen as criticism, and in many instances, justly so. My help wasnít necessary. I became a hindrance. Sealing up the gaps in the walls became your obsession. The little boy was no longer visible to me. You liked it that way, no vulnerability to exploit, no weakness to allow advantage. You couldnít lose if you didnít engage.

I long for that little boy to climb back into my arms, to feel safe with me, to trust me. The walls may separate us but I want you to remember this; I know who you are. My prayer is that you still know yourself and that you remember me. I will never leave this fortress. I regret my part in constructing it. Perhaps my dying breath will be taken outside these brick walls, separated from my greatest joy, a prisoner on the outside. If I could choose one prayer that God might answer, it would be to see just a few of these bricks fall, and to catch a glimpse of that little boy inside.


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Cheri Hardaway 11/27/06
Your article spoke to me on multiple levels. As a child, I have my own walls that God is helping me to tear down. As a parent, I see the walls around my kids; walls I helped to build. I too long for the walls to come down, so that I can reconnect to the child inside once again, to share the embrace of unconditional love and the safety therein.

Good job. Blessings, Cheri