It’s The Last Thing I Wanted

Labor day afternoon, I pulled our 9-year old son aside, “You impressed me this morning”.

Three 9-year olds, the day before, took turns ganging up on each other in our pool. Playfully wrestling and fighting the way puppies or kittens do.

However, the next morning (Labor Day), it was 2-against-1 the entire morning. The other two boys are very athletic. Our son hasn’t played any sports yet.

But you would have never known. Not only did he have strength, he had endurance too. It would have been hard to take pick of the litter.

As we cuddled in bed that night, I purposefully asked him if he remembered our earlier conversation. He did.

It was the last thing I wanted.

By jeff noel

Retired Disney Institute Keynote Speaker and Prolific Blogger. Five daily, differently-themed personal blogs (about life's 5 big choices) on five interconnected sites.


  1. Dear Jeff,

    Your story reminded me of an experience I had with my 6-year-old, Graham. He was invited by his Taekwondo instructor to “test” for a new belt recently. This was his first time to be invited to test for a new belt, so none of us knew what to expect. There were about 30 people testing for belts, from the lowest skill level (which is Graham’s and the other newbies there) to one girl who was testing for her intermediary black belt. So Graham got out there and did his 9 moves, which are the first 9 he has to learn, along with showing he has mastered the first defense move and can do the physical training portion (sit-ups and push-ups). Then he had to do a portion where he and a partner had to take turns punching and kicking the target bag/pad while the other held it. The kid was much bigger than Graham, but he was the closest in size to Graham (the smallest kid there), so they were paired together. The other kid got to punch and kick first – they were supposed to be showing technique, not strength, at this point. But the kid was kicking the bag hard, and it was knocking Graham around a good bit – not what he had prepared for in class. He kept saying, “You are too hard!” The kid kept on, so Graham held the bag up higher and started crying behind the bag. I felt so sorry for him, but there wasn’t anything I could do that could have helped the situation. So, once the guy was done with his kicks and punches, the instructor told them to switch. Graham threw the bag at the other boy and stood there with tears running down his face. The instructor said, “Your turn, Graham.” Graham shook his head like he wasn’t going to do it. The instructor goes, “Graham, now it is your turn. You can take out your frustrations on the bag.” At that point, the instructor told that group to begin (there were about 6 sets of testers up at the time). With that, Graham wiped his eyes and lit into the bag being held by other kid. It reminded me of the little brother beating up the big bully on the movie “A Christmas Story.” He was knocking that bag all over the place and knocked that kid backwards like crazy. He was mad! Then the kicks started, and he kicked that bag so hard, harder than I had ever seen him do in any practice. The kid almost went to his knees, trying to hold up the bag. The instructor just smiled and went, “Graham, I think we found the fight in you.” That was his last round of drills, so he came over to take off his sparring gloves, and with tear stains on his cheeks, he grinned and went, “Did you see me kick his tail?!” As much as I would have liked to have intervened for him, I didn’t, and I think he learned something about himself at that moment. I am not about violence, but I want him to learn to defend himself. And yes, I let him know I saw and how impressed I was that he finished and didn’t give up. I reminded him of this verse: 2 Timothy 4:7 says, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”

    I pray he doesn’t forget, and I remind him of that moment from time to time. It was a defining moment for him.


  2. Bob, your comments are wise and reinforcing. Thank you for taking time to write so that it could be shared. I recognize your commitment and it humbles me. Thank you.

  3. Hey Jeff,
    As we talked about the other day, I was confused when I first read your post.
    The last thing you wanted? I was used to that being a negative expression. But you’ve helped me to see a positive angle to it.
    I thank you for that!
    I know that the fatherly pride is already there for Calvin. But I look forward to experiencing these precious moments.

    Incredible story! The tears were coming to my eyes while reading it. Thank you for the quote from 2 Timothy as well. Paul uses some great metaphors regarding physical competition/activity.

    Just reading the post & comments for this one post makes for a very enriching day! =)

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