I have always loved the Rocky movies, every single one, yes, even Rocky V. I love the movies for obvious reason, the triumph of good verse evil, in many incarnations, the epic love story, where love can and does conquer all. Most importantly having the courage to go the distance, even if you don’t always win (many people mistaken believe that Rocky won the fight in Rocky. He did not). The basics of life. When my husband and I celebrated our seven year wedding anniversary, he gave me one of the best gifts I have ever been given. I am including my children in that. We were broke and he was in college pursuing his teaching degree so I was not expecting a gift of any sort, hoping yes, expecting, nah. He presented me with a box wrapped in silver and black paper. I ripped the wrapping off and upon seeing the contents, I cried. My darling husband had given me the box set of Rocky. All five movies in glorious VHS. We quickly grabbed food from the fridge and commenced our ten hour journey of what I believe is the best series ever created. Believe me as a movie buff and a fledging screenwriter, it has taken me some time to shake off the shame that comes with loving these movies.
The first Rocky is easily defendable, as it is the most prestigious and award winning of the series. Rocky V is not so easily defended, with it’s charcuterie of the outlandish boxing promotor, I can only assume is based on the outlandish Don King. I adore the movie anyway.
It wasn’t until my husband died that I started noticing that not only was Rocky my go to for contentment but it was also seeping into my techniques as a parent. FYI, I have always hummed the tune Gonna fly now in my head whenever I needed a mental boost, mainly when I feel massive insecurity seeping into my brain.
These Rocky induced “lessons” started innocently enough when my son asked me about relationships. I find myself explaining to him that when you’re in a relationship you should fill gaps.
When Pauly asked Rocky “Why do you like my sister?” Rocky’s reply still breaks my heart. He mumbles “We fill gaps.” At it’s most basic, isn’t that what we all want, someone who fills our gaps? After that discussion with my son about love and gap filling, I felt a boulder sized heft lift from my parental shoulders. The fact that Rocky was once again my reliable compadre filled me with a new found confidence.
It wasn’t until I found myself screaming at my eleven year old daughter that I realized that my new found confidence had taken a more intense turn. I was sitting in the bleachers with the puffy vest posse (most of the volleyball moms wear an incarnation of a down vest, alas our nickname) watching my daughter play volleyball, when suddenly she was smacked square in the nose with the game ball. I can see her chin start to quiver, her teary eyes lock on mine. She is going to cry. Before I could even formulate a thought I stood up and yelled to her at the top of my lungs, “No pain, no pain!” The very thing Tony, Apollo’s trainer, uses to motivate Rocky in Rocky IV (for those of you not in the know, it’s the one where Rocky fights in the Soviet Union).
Every mom in the posse swings their head in my direction and shoots me a look of disdain. It is very possible that the posse looks at me with confusion, as I usually never yell at these games, especially something as aggressive as a rejection of pain, however, I still took it as disdain. My daughter looks at me and quietly, sucks the liquid about to drip down her face, back the into their individual holes and soldiers on to hit another ball. My intentions were good if my actions were slightly questionable.
I have always believed that any child, especially my child, should be able to cry for whatever reason, until the day one of my daughter’s peers called her a cry baby. Then it was on like Donkey Kong. The thought of my daughter crying in front of her team and becoming a subject of teenage girl ridicule made me draw the only card I had in my deck at the time…Rocky, and I would do it again.
Being that I no longer have my husband to settle me or calm my nerves I have nothing to do but accept my Rocky parenting. I still use the phrase “no pain” with my daughter and I still relish in my “Rocky” parenting but now when I use movie motivation I do it in private, like every other effective fight trainer.