My son was a lousy batter. There. I said it. The kid was sports-addled from the age of 3 when he was a pumpkin head on a chubby body swatting wiffle balls with a fat red bat. In the heyday of his Little League years he was a great team leader and solid fielder, but he had slumps when he couldn’t hit a beach ball with a broomstick. I was going through a divorce at the time and money was tight. I’d take him to the batting cage to practice with the other kids and I’d cough up every last penny I had to watch him miss pitch after pitch. The whole experience drained my wallet and broke my heart.
That squat little apple of my eye is now a handsome, slim 6′ 1″ tall college senior. Last weekend he walked through the portal of MetLife Stadium, took in the professional football field where his beloved Giants play, and then went up to the broadcast booth where he called the play-by-play of the largest attended Division III college football game in history. Looking back, I could have predicted that moment 15 years ago, when his interest in sports was just a seedling behind an adorable smile.
When you look at your beloved sprogs in their early years perhaps you see a roadmap. This one’s going to Harvard to become a doctor, that one is going to be president of the United States. The problem is no kid in the history of the species has ever listened to a post-puberty word their parents have ever spoken. Which puts the onus of change on us!
I learned the lingua franca of parenthood in the midst of a failing marriage. I was shocked, bereft and miserable. Therefore the one thing I wanted for my kids was the opposite – that they should be happy. That was the currency that drove my decisions and choices.
If this truth seems self-evident, think about it for a second as you watch your children grow up. We’re raising a generation with the world at their i-fingertips amidst a chorus of elders who agree on nothing. We’re fiddling while their planet burns.
I sat in that chilly, windswept football stadium and watched my son’s team win a game that will be utterly forgotten by time. Boys being boys with helmets and a pigskin. But what I saw was a young man with a good work ethic and a clear eye on the ball – a ball of his own choosing. I suspect his first job may be calling the shots in Fargo or Indy or some South Texas backwater. He doesn’t care where and neither do I.
We step back and let them be. They’re wiser than we know. We’re looking for solutions to intractable problems through divisive politics, our electronic tether and a blind allegiance to Big Brother and A.I. I’m not sure I’m in. The simpler answer may lie in the soul of our youth. That’s where I’ve made my investment, I’m excited to see it through their eyes.