As I sit each evening on my fold-up sports chair with the mesh cup holder and nifty carry along bag, I observe many young boys playing the game of football. I watch tennis each afternoon, but I get to sit in a metal chair or on the bleachers while there. None the less, I sit each day and watch for many hours. While this may seem boring to some, for me there are advantages. First of all, I get to watch my kids doing something they really like. I catch them stealing glances at me to see if I am watching. I usually give a thumbs up.
I find that most kids want their parents to watch them at play. They want validation that what they are doing is good. They don’t need great, they just need validation that they and their activities are important to the one person they want to impress. Too many parents sit and play mindless games on their phones or conduct business deals while the youngster is hitting the shot of their life. Unfortunately too many parents stay in the car or drop off and leave. I prefer to stay and see the triumph in their faces when they finally make that tackle or win Queen of the Court. If you want to see your child’s face light up, don’t give a critique at the end of practice, just say, “I love watching you play.”
Another advantage to sitting in an uncomfortable, fold-up chair in the evenings is the opportunity to do nothing. Our culture is crazy about being busy and using every second of every minute doing something. I find that between downs or when the teen is picking up the tennis balls I have an opportunity to let my mind wonder. I have time to think and ponder about various things. I use the time to visit with the few other parents hanging around and make new friends. Often I use the time to say a quick prayer for safety of the players, but mostly I allow myself to just be. No pressure. No expectations. Just watching my kids.
I am not criticizing parents who don’t take the time to relax. I have been in their shoes far too many times where I dropped one off, ran to a different field, dropped that one off, stopped at the grocery store, picked up the youngest and headed back to the gym to pick up the after-school one. And then went home and helped with homework while cooking supper and watching the washer and dryer. Dads face the same kind of pressures. More money is always needed.
As our world focuses on more money and more stuff I find that more folks are unsatisfied with their lives. About a week ago I had a conversation with the pre-teen. He was telling me that a blue Lamborghini (not sure I am spelling this right, but it is a fancy car) comes to his school every day to drop off and pick up a kid. He was so impressed with the car that he talked about it for hours. My practical side came out.
“OK, so what kind of a job will you need so that you can own a Lamborghini?”
He looked stunned. I guess he thought that we would be providing the car. “Well, I am going to be a pro-football player so it won’t be a problem. I might have two.”
I nodded and said, “It is more likely that you will have a nice Mercedes or Audi.”
He was aghast. “A Mercedes? No one has those.”
I agreed. “You are right, those are expensive cars as well.”
“That’s not what I meant. I meant that I am NOT going to have a car like that.”
He was sitting in the passenger seat of my 2009 Nissan Pathfinder with 168,000 plus miles when he delivered this information. I said, “I think it would be nice to have a Mercedes.” He just shook his head in wonder that I had made it this far in life.
As we pulled up to the football field he turned to me and said, “Thank you for always bringing me and staying to watch.”
I couldn’t reply because my throat had closed. I shooed him onto the field and thought that my cheapy, fold-up chair from Walmart might not be a Lamborghini, but I was perfectly fine to perch on it each evening watching my dreams play ball.