Someone asked me the other day for some parenting wisdom. Ha, I barely know where babies come from. I’m glad, except for the college sophomore who only makes random appearances at the 1958 Beaver Cleaver house, that all of our kids are grown up and are responsible for making their own bad decisions.
But let me tell you a quick story.
When our oldest son, now the Presbyterian pastor, was a freshman in high school he was the starting quarterback on his football team. But he almost didn’t get that experience. After not playing as a lineman on the B team through junior high he wanted to quit football. Dad made an executive decision, knowing a lot of kids drop out at this age and forced him to play.
Score one for dad! The boy loved playing quarterback and so did his dad.
A year later, two-a-days started, the boy was playing quarterback again for the junior varsity — for about a week that is. Coach decided another young man might be better.
Take two, “Dad, I want to quit football.” “No, son, we don’t quit things after we start them, hang in there.” Son hates dad, dad hates that son hates him. It was not a lot of fun at the dinner table if you know what I mean.
The season started, the boy plays receiver. Turns out he likes catching touchdown passes better than throwing them. He has several games where he has multiple touchdowns.
Score one for dad again, another good decision, a lesson taught and learned. Good things can come to those who wait (and don’t quit football).
After that sophomore season, Mr. Touchdown has a few dollars and an interest in music, so he buys a bass guitar at the pawn shop.
Junior year rolls around, two-a-days are about to start, and I hear the “Dad, I don’t want to play football,” story for the 3rd time — not only that, “but dad, I don’t want to do anything but play my bass and tennis.” This kid played every sport: Football, basketball, ran cross country, ran track, played tennis and baseball. He did everything but play golf because you couldn’t play both golf and tennis. The Blonde and I, with 3 kids in the Volvo chased this kid all over central Texas, and now we are going to go cold turkey on the sports train. It was time for the boy to make a decision on his own, see where it went — even if it killed his dad (which it didn’t, but it felt like death).
Here’s my parental wisdom. Sooner or later every athlete has to hang up his cleats. Dad’s have to stop living vicariously through their children’s athletic careers. Very few of our kids will be professional athletes, in fact, they are more likely to grow up, become Presbyterians, go to seminary and become a preacher, yikes!
There is more to this story, let’s talk again next week.