The Day My Dad Told Me He Wanted To Punch Me In The Face

“You know, Kathryn,” my dad said after I lost a tennis match because I “didn’t move to the ball” for the hundredth time. “You have a personality type that makes people want to punch you in the face.”

He said it as if it was a disease that couldn’t be cured. As if I was doomed to wander the earth for eternity getting throat punched by random people.

You could say things were getting tense between my dad and I as I entered the last year of high school, but I’d be under exaggerating.

I was in the middle of trying to find a tennis scholarship after training 4 hours a day every day for over five years, and the pressure was high.

I envied my sister. She was doing tennis and karate, but she wasn’t under any pressure to get a scholarship. And while my dad and I fought about schools to apply to and tournaments to play, my sister and my dad would talk about her friends, Lord of the Rings marathons and getting her black belt.

Sure, they would fight, but not like my dad and I did. We would go for hours without speaking to each other afterwards, sometimes days.

But Emma and my dad fought like goldfish, screaming at each other, yes, but then moving on to a new topic seconds later, as if they’d suddenly forgotten what they were arguing about.

I envied their easy-going relationship, and I’d always stare at them slack-jawed as they’d do this. It was like being able to fast-forward part of a movie you’d rather not see. Like when a sex scene comes on when you’re with your parents, or a tear-jerking death scene pops up with your casual hookup. If this happened with Emma and my dad, they’d blink and suddenly you’d be watching a scene from Barney the Dinosaur.

I can’t say I blamed my dad, though. With the amount he was spending on me for tennis lessons you’d think he was paying for something with a much greater pay off. Like inserting a jet-packed robot into my right arm instead of boring muscle memory on how to serve and hit a forehand.

But my dad’s just like that: A hyperactive lawyer who goes all the way into one hobby to distract himself from his professional miseries. It’s just who he is, so when the tennis phase hit, I was ready.

That’s why when my dad subtly hinted that he wanted to sock his first born in the face, I smiled back at him, feeling the weight of the world on my shoulders as we drove away from those tennis courts after a long day.

“I know,” I said, praying my knee would give out tomorrow and we’d instantly go back to talking about Harry Potter trivia and other fun facts. “I feel the same way about you.”

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