When I worked in a classroom with eight year old children one of my strategies was to reverse roles and concede power to the child. It was playful and often disingenuous on my part. I would get things wrong on purpose so that the child had the experience of correcting and even chiding me.
When I was little my father, whose middle name was Victor, invariably put himself in the position of loser when we boxed and wrestled on the hearth-rug. He so wanted me to have the victory over him, to excel him in strength. It was as if he knew from the start that I would never use my power against him, that I would never knowingly and avoidably give him pain. I never did. What is more our loving kindness was entirely mutual.
I was reminded of this truly filial relationship during a recent visit to the Octagon Theatre in Bolton. In the play Rafta Rafta a father and his soon to be married son seek to humiliate each other through an arm-wrestling contest. Such a contest between me and my father would have been excruciating. And it never would have worked. We should each have been trying too hard to let the other win.