You (probably) don't know him, but trust when I tell you that T is a real shitbag.
In our little cluster of townhomes, there are six boys who live there. A quick scouting report:
There is a family that lives across from us. They have three boys; J and D and L. They're sweet kids, and the boys' primary playmates. (They literally come to our door, knock on it, then ask if the boys can come out and play, a thing that I didn't know happened outside of movies on basic cable.)
J is a stout, goofily charming eight year old. He's a gymnast, a fact that might be problematic for most young boys but it isn't for J because he's built like a small car. One day, he absolutely throttled his four-years-older cousin for making fun of him. He shoved him into a bush, flew in behind him, then delivered an uncountable number of blows to his head before his mom reeled him in. I don't know what J's favorite color is or where he goes to school or how he feels about the Lakers picking up Steve Nash, but I do know that if you mention his gymnast pants in a less than charitable manner HE WILL FUCK YOUR WORLD UP.
D is the middle child, an overly brainy six year old who thinks nothing in the world is funnier than sticking his butt out and shaking it after he catches a football. In addition to being the boys' friend, he also occasionally serves as their nemesis. The three have never discussed that their relationship is so, but they all understand it.
L is one year old and spends the entirety of his time outside trying not to get run over. He's the best, and the only one thus far who has not attempted to throw anything at any of the other boys' wieners.
There are my boys, Bay and Meech.
And then there's T, awfulawful T.
T is 14 and attends a local high school. He thinks he's hot shit because he has long hair that dangles in front of his eyes and owns a matte black mountain bike.
He told me once that Ludacris was his favorite musician, a proclamation no less preposterous than declaring your favorite Italian dish to be Mac and Cheese with cut up hotdogs in it. I saw T at a Drake concert two months ago. He acted like he didn't know who I was. Fuck that kid. When he forgets to put his bike away, I'm gonna drive right over it.
Recently, all-of-the-boys-minus-T were outside playing basketball on a six foot tall Fischer Price goal. They weren't really playing a game against each other, just sort of taking turns shooting. (J shot nine percent from the field. He's the closest thing we have to Ray Allen.) I was sitting nearby, offering shooting advice no one asked for because that's what dads do.
T came wandering outside (in the most assholey way possible, mind you; barely picking his feet up off the ground and flipping his hair back and forth) and immediately took over. He organized a game — all of the other boys against him — and summarily destroyed them.
Now, I get it, sure. I don't mind an older kid beating younger kids in basketball. That's the way the world has worked for a thousand years. Beating them is fine. But he gave commentary the entire time — “Get that outta here!” when he'd block someone, “Kobe!” any time he'd drain a jumper, “I'm unguardable!” as he dribbled around everyone — which, against tiny humans, is just about the worst.
So I got up.
And I walked over.
And I said, “Okay, my turn.” (Super climactic shit.)
“What's the matter? You're scared?” (I'm the bad guy in a Disney movie, apparently.)
“You don't even have shoes on,” he pointed out.
“Fuck you, bitch. I left 'em next to your mother's bed, what the fuck do you care,” is what I thought.
“l'll be fine,” is what I said.
So we played. And it was like the goddamn basketball apocalypse.
I destroyed him, offering no mercy or abiding by any wartime restrictions.
When he tried to dribble, I'd get in his chest, clipping his lateral movement with the knobbiest of knees. When he tried to rise and shoot, I'd slide under him, daring him to land on one or both of my feet and twist an ankle. When he tried to turn and back his way in, I'd slap haphazardly towards the ball, leaving his wrists pinked and angry. He wilted. Eventually, his game plan consisted solely of picking up his dribble, spinning around in place for a second or two, then chucking the ball up blindly.
On offense, I was even more obnoxious.
If he tried to get close, I'd either wiggle around him and dunk it on his head (he's a long kid, but he can't weigh more than 90 pounds), or I'd turn and pile drive my way towards the goal, turning when I'd get close to the rim, jumping, then attempting to rip the rim from the backboard. Whenever he'd back up, I'd shoot over the top of him. If the ball went in, I'd prance around, high fiving my sons and shouting “OHHHHH! DID THAT GO IN? T, DID THAT GO IN? I DIDN'T SEE IT BECAUSE MY EYES WERE CLOSED! I'M LITERALLY BEATING YOU WITH MY EYES CLOSED!” If the ball didn't go in, I'd crash into the paint like Karl Malone, snatch the ball from him, then slow motion dribble it out and start the whole process again.
He never scored a point. Halfway through the trouncing, he had that same “Do I Even Exist?” glossed over look on his face that Fiona Apple thinks is interesting.
When the game was over, I celebrated like LeBron. The smaller boys were uproarious. T went home without saying anything to anyone.
Sure, I understand the irony in doing to a kid exactly what I get mad at him for doing to other kids.
But fuck that. Sometimes it has to be done.
Dads do that too.