posted by Matt W on February 6th, 2013

For years, I have been pretty clutch when it comes to competition. If I am paying attention and understand what the score is, which is indeed a pretty big “if,” I’m your guy. While this used to take place on tavern league softball and basketball teams and while playing golf with my buddies, in middle age, it has usually taken the form of beating my children in games and sports. As I have mentioned in previous blogs, I usually beat my son at golf. Now that he outdrives me by 60 yards, it’s getting harder and harder but I still get the better of him on the links. This past summer he thought he had me when we were tied after 18. He started smack talking, saying he would beat me if there were any more holes and I said “Bring it on; the first tee is right over there.” While he outdrove me by his standard 60 yards on the par 5, I hit my 3 wood to 8 feet and he could only put his 7 iron to 30 feet. His putt stopped a turn short of the cup and when my 8 footer found the bottom of the cup for eagle, my reputation for being clutch lived on for another day.

Well, the tide might be turning. The other day, we went bowling as a family. Everyone in my family is a pretty good athlete, but in the past few years, we haven’t gone bowling all that much, so we’re all average. I will say my wife and I used to bowl, years ago, so we are a little more comfortable on the lanes than the kids. So, in the first game, my oldest and I fight it out for first. My wife and daughter were solidly in the middle with my middle son, the golfer, in distant last. In the second game, my wife starts out hot and takes a nice lead. My oldest son and daughter start to struggle and fall back quickly. In the 6th frame, my middle son mentions that he’s beating me and taunts “You are going down.” My wife asks if my son hasn’t learned anything in his time on earth. “If you want to beat your dad, you have to be quiet.” I look up at the score and start to pay attention. “Wow, he is beating me, I hadn’t noticed. Hey, so is wife” are my thoughts.

I throw a strike.

After another couple marks, I am beating my son and realize that I need 2 strikes in the 10th to beat my wife. I instantly know that I’m going to do it. I grab my ball, make my approach, glide through a perfect release, my ball rolls nicely down the lane, it turns at just the right moment into the pocket, and a solid… ten pin. Really? One measly pin! How did that happen? It never used to happen that way.  Well, I pick up the spare and throw another ball for a nine count and lose to my wife. In addition to losing to my wife, my son now has the chance to roll two strikes and an 8 count to beat me.

First ball is his best of the night. Strike. Second ball is even better than the previous. Strike number two. His third ball carries the eight pins needed for the win. Really? Did he just beat me by one?

His line that follows is a classic. “The only thing that was going through my mind those last three balls was ‘Someday, I’m going to be a dad and I’m going to have to be clutch then, so I better figure out how to do it now.”

As my children come into their primes; unfortunately, I am leaving mine. What little dominance I have held over them in the recent past has been mostly in the form of being mentally tougher than they are. That might be starting to slip away. It sounds like from now on I’m going to need to pay attention from the start and truthfully that might not even be enough.

File Under Jack of all Trades