This article originally appeared in the Just for Teens Issue

Back when I was a tween, all I wanted in this world was to finally be a “big boy.” Sure enough, my wish was granted, but with one small caveat: being a “big boy” means having some big responsibilities. So while I have enjoyed the many privileges of being a teen, there have been a few downsides, like more chores, more homework, and the fact that every Friday my father comes to Oak Avenue Middle School gym class to wrestle me in front of my peers.

Now, I know what you’re probably thinking: “What’s your problem? Everyone has to deal with the responsibilities of teenhood. Quit whining, shut up, and do your chores.” Father would echo that sentiment. He asks me to be very silent as we wrestle so that he can hear the whoops and shrieks of the crowd roaring him on. And I get where both of you are coming from: I’m not the first guy to strip down to a singlet and try to put his 225-pound father in a two-handed choke lift, and I sure as hell won’t be the last.

Still, it’s been tougher than I expected. Every Wednesday and Thursday I have to take urine inducers and run around in a trash bag to make weight, since Father refuses to wrestle me unless I fall into the 100-110 pound international junior featherweight class by 2 p.m. on Friday afternoon. Of course, to not wrestle Father would be an even greater embarrassment than to be bested by him, so the choice is clear.

The worst part is that Father is never to be bested. Even when I pin him, he accuses me of cheating and asks my gym teacher Coach Freihofer to declare a redo. Coach Freihofer is so afraid of having to wrestle Father again that he always submits. Father knows that when I defeat him I will become the man of the house and take sole possession of the family jewels, which is what we call my younger brothers Ruby and Jason.

Before I know it, it is 2 p.m. Father enters the gymnasium in his signature cape and nothing else. My girlfriend Genevieve swoons as he gives big, whooping high-fives to his entourage and corner man. I watch Father hide a confident smirk behind his beaked mask as he chest bumps my best friends Trevor and Cody. Those traitors. Though they are smiling now, they too will soon face this ordeal. Wrestling my father is just part of becoming a man.


—C. Cohen