It’s morning, just past sunrise, and the youngest, Child #3, gives me a big hug at the door.
“Wish me luck, Daddy!” she says.
Today is Track and Field Day at her school. She will run and jump and all that.
It will be good for her body and her soul too, and I am happy for her because she is strong and fast and with any luck she will not just win a ribbon, but become an Olympian and take care of her mother and me in retirement.
#1, the oldest, goes at it tomorrow, the running and jumping for the older kids. Here at home, she has taken up running around the nearby cinder track, one fantastic advantage of living on a university campus even in a developing nation. Last weekend she did seven laps, which she will tell you is almost 3000 metres and a full bottle of water.
But it’s other things that also get #1 going. Last weekend she sang in front of hundreds – again. And two days ago she was awarded academic high honours, in with just a few others at a school assembly, the sort of big deal that Mom and Dad are invited to sit and watch, something that reminded me of my own school days when I was 12.
#2, the boy, is sick, fighting off temperature and other things. So today I stay at home with him, a bummed-out boy because sickness means he even missed the last match of his school’s soccer team, a gaggle of growing boys – black, white and a few shades in between – in which he lives and breathes and finds his being, especially as team goalie, now with fat, colourful goalie mitts.
But being sick gives him a quiet moment with Dad, which otherwise wouldn’t be possible during school day hours. Rather than going out and blowing up a bridge, we decide to sit outside with the cats, and eat a bit, and we talk of the lettuce and spinach in the garden that we will cut later for supper after Mother and The Girls return.
Then we read together in his Boys’ Devotional, another sort of garden, and then we pray for his day.
And this, it seems to me, is just as grand an accomplishment as the above-noted athletics and academics.
I then read by myself. It’s something about the sacredness of parenting. The writer wonders aloud about pain and disappointment and losing, and our natural uneasiness with it all, especially as parents, how we don’t like to see our kids experience any of it.
It’s why the game of dodge-ball (my own favourite school game) has been increasingly banned in schools, because someone might get drilled with a ball in the gut or in the head or wherever else, sure, but more so, someone might just get hit by the ball, period, and therefore be “out” and that might hurt sensitive feelings. Give me a break. This is what the writer says.
I agree. It’s not that getting “out” (losing and feeling rejection or whatever) is so hard on our kids. It’s hard on the parents. Really, who wants to have to see their kids suffer?
But if they don’t suffer in small and medium ways, they will suffer in larger ways later, unable and unwilling to cope in a world that, whether we like it or not, is full of one loss or another.
Just some thoughts on a breeze-filled morning in Africa where there’s some running and jumping and singing and vomiting amidst the sunshine, where the greens need to be cut and where there are words and letters read from a page, and now more letters being thrown into cyberspace, none it, apparently related, but all of it, somehow, making another day in the plain but holy essence of things as they are.