A Bronx Irish Catholic symbolically becomes an adult at confirmation when a Bishop slaps (lightly) the boy’s cheek to signal that life can have hard knocks.
While I may have learned a great deal from the Dominican Nuns and the Jesuits, it was my Dad who taught my brother Charlie and I how to navigate life and death.
My Dad operated on the instruction found in Proverbs (22:6), “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”
When I was about 5 years old, another kid attacked me in the first landing of our fourth floor tenement apartment.
When I told my Dad, he got down on his knees on the linoleum and said I should punch his hands, left-right-left, first one, then the other, correcting my pug moves until I said, “This is fine Dad but when are you going to take care of Johnny?”
My father said, “You have to fight your own battles.” Continue reading