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Being a Man

When I was 8, my dad was worried that I was too soft. I remember we were at the Marae at a tangi and he woke me up early to go for a ride. We went up the back and arrived at a farm. Since we moved to town when I was a baby a farm was something different. We hopped out of the truck and he told me to wait by the fence while he went in a big shed. After a few minutes, dad came back pulling a pig on a rope. He tied it to the fence and went to the truck. This was the first time I had seen a pig and it was very friendly grunting at my feet.

Dad returned with his butcher knife and belt and one of my uncle’s rifles. I knew exactly what dad came to do so I stood back and watched. Dad loaded the gun, took a quick look down the barrel and said. “Here son, shoot it.” I was shocked, this was the last thing I wanted to do. He forced the gun in my hands and I took the shot… with my eyes closed. I blew off the pig’s ear and it ran around squealing. Dad swore at me then finished the job with his knife. I was crying while watching what was going on and felt really sorry for the pig. Afterwards we were riding in the truck and dad looks at me and says. “Don’t tell your mum.”

Sometimes as a father we worry if our boys will grow up strong. I don’t think this experience helped strengthen my resolve, although it does give me a funny story to share with my friends.

My dad has changed now and has a very different style of parenting towards my younger brothers. How much he has changed was made clear by a comment he shared with me at a rugby game. We were watching my little brother play when we both hear one of the dads swearing and yelling at his son while he’s on the field. My dad looks at me and says.

“Look son I used to be like that aye.” We both laughed and cheered for my little brother who is doing fine without a heavy lesson of shooting a pig.

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