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Love's Swift Kick

President Theodore Roosevelt once said "no man is worth his salt who is not ready at all times to risk his body, to risk his well-being, to risk his life, in a great cause.'

This is a Valentine's Day story about the time my then six-year-old son, Elijah, went the distance for love. I can't say it was his first love, but as you will come to realize, it will no doubt forever be one of his most memorable. 

President Roosevelt's slogan was "speak softly and carry a big stick." Perhaps Elijah should have carried a big stick during his first grade year at school. I remember well the day he came home and announced that he had a girlfriend and then a few weeks later when he said, "I tried to break up her dad, but she kicked me in the shin, so I decided to stay with her."  He pulled up his pant leg and showed me the bruise.  I guess he thought it is better to be unhappy than to have a bruised shin,' as his first grade "courtship" with the little girl continued. Twice more, he tried to break up with her, but each time the result was the same: a kick to the shin. I was ready to report it to the school, or even call her parents, but he talked me out of it, saying he had a plan.  So, I said okay and suggested that in the meantime he wear shin guards to school.

I think it was Mark Twain who said "courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear - not absence of fear." It takes a mighty big man to overcome the things he is scared of...even a little girls swift kick to the shin. Though he did not reveal it to me, I was curious about what sort of plan he had in mind.

It wasn't until the very last day of school that Elijah put his plan into action. He walked the girl to her bus and then continued on to his bus, which was parked about 40 feet away.  He waited until he was the last person to board and just before he did, he turned to the girl and screamed, "I'M BREAKING UP WITH YOU!" He then hopped on the bus and the door closed behind him. Turning to look, he saw her standing there, stomping her foot on the ground.

His plan had worked.  He had broken up with the girl and had escaped without another bruised shin. I said, "What about when you go back to school next fall?  She will kick you again!" He was convinced that over the summer she would forget him, which she did.

His successful breakup with the girl who had worn his shins out gave Elijah a newfound courage like he had never had before.  I think that summer was one of the best he ever had. Oh the joys of growing up -- the experiences, the unforgettable moments, the memories we make and later come to cherish. I often wonder if looking for love is worth a bruised shin. It's hard to say, really. I guess it all depends on how desperate you are. Maybe a bruised shin is worth forgetting about love. Elijah would say yes, it is worth it.

Happy Valentine's Day!

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