Competition

If you ever want to get an education on the state of the American culture go to a t-ball game.  As a grandfather I recently had the opportunity to sit in the background and watch as American culture unfolded before my eyes.

Baseball is uniquely American sport and today still holds some resemblance to the original sport.  As much as it bothers me, the slow evolution of baseball is not the focus of my thoughts today.

As my Grandson’s game progressed, I observed the actions before me with growing interest.  It soon became increasingly clear to me that the real competition was not between the children’s teams but was between the parents. 

In their efforts, Parents were seemingly unaware of their actions.  Children of broken homes were torn by the need to protect their “relationship” with either or both parents.  Other children were showered with the best of everything.  The best uniform, $150 shoes, $200 aluminum T-ball bat, $80 baseball bag, $200 glove, name on the back of the uniform, etc, the list seems to never end.  Some were pushed, at 4-5 years of age, to perform like a major leaguer.  Still others were doted over by well meaning parents who hovered over their children waiting for their opportunity to supply anything the child demanded.

No where was there a firm understanding of the balance of all things.  It is this lack of balance that is the most disturbing to me.  We all want our children, and grand children, to participate.  We all want them to realize their potential to the fullest extent possible.  We all want our children to be successful in what they begin, but where is the balance?

Children need to have fun!  They need to be children, what is the rush to make your four-year-old act like their twenty-five?  Children need to experience the real feel of success gotten by hard work, not handed to them for mere participation.  Let’s face it, not every child is going to be a professional baseball player, or any other sport they choose.  Likely most will be good enough to enjoy it, if they are not pushed so hard they rebel against it.  The value lies in the opportunity for successful negotiation through the maze of successes and failures that make them stronger and give them a true sense of accomplishment.

Sister Mary Corita Kent, the noted artist and educator, is quoted as having said; “Love the moment. Flowers grow out of dark moments. Therefore, each moment is vital. It affects the whole. Life is a succession of such moments and to live each, is to succeed”. 

Success in the long run comes from what we have learned in the struggles in life.  In my own life, I was recently reminded of how this works.  I was struggling with one of the most difficult issues I have ever faced, an issue that had impact on my entire family.  In the middle of this struggle, my son Scott handed me a music CD by Ron Block, a bluegrass artist.  One song on this album became my theme song during this dark struggle.  One phrase was particularly poignant;

Remember at night what you knew in the day
 Till darkness fades away
Ron Block (Faraway Land, “In the Morning Light”) 

Without the opportunity to spend time in the darkness, there would be no understanding of what we had during the day.  If our time in the darkness was extended, we would not have the experience to know that every new day starts with a night.  Then the struggle would be

Fathers, I ask that we keep our children in our hearts.  We can’t buy them success, but we can strategically do everything possible to maximize their experiences.  That includes allowing them to experience success and failure without judgment.  What they need is our support and our willingness to help them see the value in each success and each failure. 

En servicio como padre

Dave

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