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Sunday, January 9, 2011

True Grit

Rooster Cogburn's got nothing on the men in my house. Okay, perhaps that's a bit of an overstatement. What the heck. Rooster's merely a figment of author Charles Portis's imagination - and characterized by the late, great John brilliantly brought to life by Jeff Bridges. Either way, the topic of "grit" is an intriguing one. Is it innate? Or learned? We can talk nature or nurture all day long, but I can tell you one thing. If my kids were raised by me, solely, they still might not know how to cut their own meat.

The other night I talked the family into getting off our lazy winter butts. So we took a trip to the Wellness Center instead of watching TV.  Once into a friendly game of basketball (girls against boys of course), Cole took a hard pass from his father - directly in the nose. It was a bleeder - a good one too. I was cupping my hands to keep it from going all over the gym floor. But do you think our little trooper cried? Not one tear. He's a little strange like that - a little proud of his wounds. (Last summer Cole couldn't wait to show me how he scraped the hell out of his leg after his first real "slide" in baseball.) When the kid cries, it usually doesn't involve physical pain. Now, this isn't something I would've taught him. Most certainly it comes from his full-blooded stoical German father. Remember the line, "There's no crying in baseball"? Well, in Doug's world, there's no crying. Period. (What a shock when he married the likes of someone like me - who cries almost as much as John Boehner. Almost.)

I think grit can be taught from different positions. My dad told me a story once about his own father taking him out to shoot a rabbit. My dad kept missing him. My grandfather was suspicious of his son's poor aim, so he kept at my dad to get the furry little animal. The point, of course, was "to make a man" out of him. But my young dad couldn't seem to find the rascally rabbit. When Doug takes Cole out to shoot their ever-growing collection of guns, they design all sorts of fancy targets  - (Sunny Delight bottles, milk jugs, green bean cans, etc.).  I'm happy to report that Cole is vehemently opposed to harming any living animal. No bird or cat has ever been injured.

If that isn't true grit, I don't know what is.

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