My kids are beginning their journey into sports. Lacrosse, soccer, wrestling, football, basketball, golf, backyard whiffleball… the list goes on. At 8, 6 and 4 respectively, they’ve got more moxie and swagger, head-fakes and highlight-reel moments than I had when I was…well…ever, actually.
As much as I love looking through their school-work when I get home — handwriting exercises, math problems, reading responses, random crayon drawings and watercolor paintings — as a dad, my heart soars when I pull in the driveway and I’m greeted by “Daddy! Daddy’s home! Wanna play catch?!”
In truth, I was lousy at sports and school as a kid, and only realized success at both as an adult. That could be why my wife and I loosely agree on the importance of their involvement in sports in school. She tends to agree with the in-game commercial from the NCAA that says “Most of us will go pro in something other than sports,” while I tend toward “that’s fine, and most-likely true, so you better go play your ass off till you’ve gotta wear a tie.”
So when my youngest says “watch this!” and pitches a golf ball over the fence into the neighbor’s yard…when I pass the rock to my oldest who can now make baskets on our neighbors regulation hoop…when I toss a football to my 6-year-old and he takes five steps back and throws a pretty darn good spiral…I let go of a laugh that starts in my soul, carries with it every hope, fear, anxious moment, expectation, disappointment and glorious success I’ve experienced in life. I laugh and jump in the air with my hands up. They run to me for high-fives and I holler things like “what a shot! I don’t think that’s coming down!” and “at the buzzer for 3!” and (of course) “touchdown!”And they smile their perfect 8, 6, and 4-year-old smiles, turn their swagger up a notch and we play some more.
I feel like I’m doing something right…which, as most dads will understand, is huge. I’m constantly amazed by their natural ability to “get it.” They’re learning confidence, fair play and respect. They fail, fail again and then finally figure it out. They cheer each other on. They’re learning about the value of persistence and practice. All great things to bring with them to school.
In the end, it doesn’t matter what they go pro in. Lord knows I’m still trying to figure it out for myself. I just hope they enjoy the journey as as much as the destination(s).