Monthly Archives: June 2009

Tee-Ball Flashbacks

sandlot

My son had his first tee-ball practice last night.  The coach really seemed to do well connecting with the kids and bringing out their best in this new activity.  I was proud of Shep’s attitude and effort.  Even though he clearly got hot and tired (summer sports in South Louisiana can be grueling), he stayed fairly focused on the practice activity and didn’t give up.  He made some great stops in the field, and his coachability at the plate allowed his batting to improve immediately.  Hitting and throwing obviously didn’t come naturally to him, but despite appearing somewhat awkward, he kept his spirits up and went for it.

Watching him out there on the baseball field, especially up at the plate, really brought flashbacks from my own childhood.  Some were good.  I remember how much I revered my tee-ball coach, Blake.  Just putting on a uniform and being part of a time was somehow magical.  It was a great feeling to make a good play in the field, or get a solid hit.  I still remember how much I loved getting my complimentary drink from the concession stand after games, and ordering what all the coolest guys drank – a “suicide” (mixture of everything from the fountain – YUCK).

Most of my memories of childhood and youth athletic activity are not so warm and fuzzy.  I always seemed to be so uncoordinated and unsure.  I wasn’t exactly the kid the team captains were fighting over for team membership at recess.  Good or bad, right or wrong, basic athletic ability seems to be so tied to masculinity in our culture, beginning early in boyhood.  You can imagine how I felt on the field or court or recess parking lot.

Back to today and fatherhood.  It really doesn’t matter to me if my son is any kind of athlete or takes a shining to any particular sport or activity.  I really just want to give him my best as a father.  And it has really hit me in a very powerful, tangible way – giving my best as a father means proactively doing what I can to help Shep learn to hit a ball off a tee, effectively catch a baseball and a football, confidently throw a baseball and a football with reasonable accuracy, learn basic basketball handling skills, and generally develop some basic athletic skills.  It isn’t about making a particular athlete out of him, or insisting he measure up to some ball-handling standard to make me feel good as a Dad.  It’s about doing my part to make sure he has the opportunity to develop some basic “male” competencies, so he can do with them whatever he wants to do.

In short, I have decided part of my job as Dad is to teach my son how to hold his own in athletics, and let him decide where and how to use these abilities.  A daunting task for a Dad who isn’t particularly athletic.  But no more hiding in the bushes, right? Seems like a great realm to practice the four qualities of authentic masculinity, according to Robert Lewis and Men’s Fraternity:

1. Reject Passivity  2. Accept Responsibility  3. Lead Courageously  4. Expect God’s Greater Reward

What about other Dads out there?  How have you approached athletics and physical skills with your sons and daughters?  What do you believe you have done well?  Where do you believe you could have done better?  Where did you learn those skills when you were growing up?

God’s Own Fool

This song came to my mind this morning.  I think it is because of the ways God has been shaking, breaking, and waking me up lately.  I hope you find it as haunting and inviting as I have.

Michael Card – “God’s Own Fool”

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZvejyvnEidY[/youtube]

Hiding in the Bushes

Sometimes (more often than I really like admitting) I get intimidated by a challenge or responsibility in life, and I just feel like running to hide in the bushes.  It could be a really critical situation where I am keenly aware that the stakes are high, and I am holding some serious responsibility.  And the more I think about it, the more I get intimidated and want to hide.  Or, it could be a supremely mundane situation where the stakes are about as high as one individual may not care for the decision I make.  And the more I think about it, the more I get intimidated and want to hide.

Hmmm...Who's that youngster in the back that looks like Ms. Garanflo had to drag out of hiding back in '78?

Hmmm...Who's that youngster the teacher had to drag out of hiding in '78?

Mankind has been finding ways to run and hide from difficulties since the Garden.  We may have found many ways of hiding (alcohol, drugs, procrastination, pornography, Facebook, performing, hobbies, and on and on), but the results are essentially the same.  When I hide from possible difficulty, and do something easier or more pleasant, I am basically declaring that I can’t trust God to see me through, and I had better do things MY way.  And this always leads to disappointment and some measure of misery.  Yet when I am willing to fully face life on life’s terms, and trust that God will provide me with EVERYTHING I need to get through any situation He expects me to face, my life is really infused with a deep sense of peace and security, and I seem to overflow with joy.

You know – life really is better out here in the risky places with God.  Care to join me?  Care to ask me when you think I might be hiding in the bushes?  Care to make a wisecrack about my pre-pre-kindergarten class picture?

Carpe Diem

I became a fan of the Latin phrase for “Seize the Day” after becoming a huge fan of the movie, Dead Poets Society, when I was in high school.  In fact, on my first date with the stunning gal who would eventually become my wife, I wore a t-shirt that proclaimed “Carpe Diem.”  (Thank God she didn’t have good fashion sense at the top of her list of qualities in a prospective husband!)

I am thinking of this phrase today for two reasons.  Yesterday I went through some of my old childhood memory boxes and threw away a bunch of stuff that I good find no compelling reason to keep any longer.  In the process, I found the remnants of that old t-shirt, which I had cut out and framed once the shirt became so threadbare it was too tacky for even an old country boy like me to continue wearing.  And this morning as I was preparing to leave for work, my son made it clear how much he wanted me to stay home and spend the day with him.

Once Upon a Time... (Once upon a time…)

At five years old, my son basically thinks I am the greatest guy on the planet and would love to spend most of his waking hours with me.  I recognize this will likely not always be the case.  Carpe Diem, Dad!

Do I need to spend all my time with my son, or even thinking about my son?  No.  I am the best father to him when I keep my life in the right balance, giving my best to the various areas of responsibility and opportunity in my life.

Do I need to be reminded now and then about how fleeting life is, and that I need to make the most of this time in my son’s life?  Absolutely!  The investments I make in him today will pay such huge dividends for him when he hits his teenage years, when he reaches adulthood, when he embarks on the journey of marriage, has children of his own, faces career challenges, deals with crises of faith, etc.

And so I find myself feeling both extremely grateful and sobered at the realization that my son longs for whatever I have to offer him.  God, help me offer him something of great value on each today you give me to share with him.

What have been some of the best ways you have found to invest in your children along the journey?