Monday, June 17, 2013

Touching Bases

Over the last three years of writing this blog, I have successfully and even intentionally -- nay, brazenly -- avoided posting holiday-related pieces and, although today is Father's Day, I contend that the only reason I am writing about fatherhood is as a result of a discussion with some friends last night over drinks.

So there.

Anyway, one of these friends -- a mother -- had mentioned her surprise that her son, soon to be in high school, had a little trouble when sent to a counter to pay for some goods at a store. He simply hadn't done it before, and he was a bit confused by the process. She was surprised by this and helped him through, to his visible relief.

I mentioned that we, as parents, tend to find ourselves in these situations: "Why didn't I teach him that?"

I think this stems from two places: 1) We sometimes forget, as adults, that we need to teach the things that are second-nature to us and 2) it is often easier to take care of certain procedures ourselves than to slow up the process by, say, sending our children to counters to pay for things.

It is good to be a person who constantly thinks in metaphors, sometimes...

When my older son joined baseball, the players were asked to run the bases. The coach reminded them that they needed to touch each "bag" on the way by. My son, never having played the game, was the first to run. He is lighting-fast, but he stopped at each base to touch it with his hand. Part of me wanted to dig a hole and hide in it, but then it occurred to me:

Watching a child learn a sport (especially baseball, in its complexity) is a great metaphor for one's job as a parent. In our lives, we have done so many things by rote for so long, we forget how complex the nuts-and-bolts goings-on of the world are, sometimes.

I mean -- if someone tells you to touch something, do you instinctively do it with your foot? I know I don't.

So much of the hardest job of all is patience. Sadly, patience is the one thing the daily world sucks out of us.

Well, my friend also mentioned that she was moved by her son's gratitude when she helped him. There's the heart of it.

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