I was quite a good cricketer when I was in my teens and early 20s and enjoyed a little success at club level. With visions of past glory in my minds eye, I decided it was time to sign up to play again. Now at 38 I’m certainly not the oldest guy out there, but most local grade cricketers appear to be in their 20’s, so I’m certainly one of the older statesman.
My first game was a beauty, and I top scored for my team and bowled pretty fast. What I discovered was that the speed at which I bowled became inversely proportional to the speed at which I was able to get out of bed the following morning. BOY! Did I whinge – I’m sore, can you rub my shoulders?, my feet hurt!
The following week I went to watch the junior team play. I reckon that the boys would be about 11 or 12, and was humbled to discover that they bowled faster than me! Whilst fielding one of the young fellows had a ball drilled at him that he tried to catch. It hit his hand awkwardly, and I could tell by the ear piercing yelp that it did some damage. The young crying and gasping fellow was escorted from the field to his worried looking dad. The boy looked at his dad with one of those ‘please make it better’ looks that most parents would be familiar with, and tried to bury his face in his dad’s chest. Jeez, did the dad look awkward. He sort of patted the boy with an uncomfortable hand, with his eyes darting around to see if people were watching him. “she’ll be right mate, stop carrying on like a sheila!” ..Laughter…
The boy eventually calmed down, but the whole event really upset me. Why didn’t this dad just take his son in his arms and hug him? That’s what this young fellow was craving, just the warm safe embrace of his dad. I guess I shouldn’t really be surprised by his reaction though. Men are conditioned from a young age to view any outward emotion as weakness, and crying, well crying is something women and poofters do. But why is this the case? I could see from the dad’s expression that his first instinct to hug the boy, but fear of what people would think overrode this most basic of parental instincts – to protect and care for your child.
From my experience men who are able to express their emotions (other than anger, cause that’s a ‘tough’ emotion) are more grounded in life, have stronger relationships and are less prone to depressive illness. Certainly things are different now, and far more men are comfortable bucking stupid stoic convention, and allowing themselves the opportunity to experience the world differently.