I can remember one when the boys were little (Gabe was probably 6 or 7, JP 4 or 5) when they were coming inside for the night. Our house sits across our property from the barn, probably a walk of about 200 yards or so. It is down hill to the middle of the pasture, then back up hill – so it is literally up a hill both ways!
It had just passed dusk one summer night, so it wasn’t pitch black, but was definitely getting tough to see everything. They had ridden ponies (I think) and left Jaclyn in the barn putting up a saddle and took off running across the pasture to come in.
I was in the yard at the house when I heard the first sound of a cry come from somewhere in the dark. I took out through the pasture to find JP now walking next to Gabe crying. He was dusty and his clothes weren’t in all the right places as he blubbered and reached out for me.
You see, about 1/3 of the way through the pasture from the barn is a fence that runs across it. It is all hog wire (or goat fencing, whatever you wish to call it) with one large, 14-foot opening for a gate. It stays open 99% of the time and was open that night as well. Unfortunately for little JP, he just ran with the house in his sights way in the distance and didn’t think about making sure he hit the gate opening. So, you probably guessed it by now, he ran full sprint, face-first, no bracing for impact into the fence (thank goodness it wasn’t barbed wire!).
Regardless of what you might think, moms and dads don’t have all the answers. And, calming down a 4-year old is always a tricky chore. So, I did the only thing that came to mind – I tried to get his mind off of what just happened. I made something up right on the spot.
I told him he broke one of the three rules you can never break. (I said three because it sounded like a good number, but had no idea where I was going with it). He quieted down a little. I told him that one of the three rules you should live by was “Don’t run in the dark.”
Let’s be honest. It’s a good rule. It’s a good piece of advice.
And, it worked to calm down a 4-year old that had just face planted a wire fence.
In life, we are given a lot of good, sound advice. Mostly from our parents and grandparents growing up (or aunts, uncles, etc.). Then teachers, then coaches, then friends and siblings we respect or look up to.
I don’t know about you, but I often shrug most of it off. Not intentionally, mind you.
It just usually doesn’t apply to me. Until it does. Then I go into, “that’s why ______ told me that.”
In the moment, not running in the dark was good advice for JP. Albeit about 5 minutes too late. Given that advice a week before, he likely would have still taken off at full speed to come inside that night.
I’m going to give some advice to all parents. It was probably given to me at multiple points since the day Kara was born 19 years ago. This advice goes for sports parents, band parents, musical/theater parents, parents of kids who love to build things, play dress-up, or even eat dirt. It’s simple and is summed up in three words:
Enjoy. The. Ride.
I don’t know if watching Kara have to trudge through injuries and health issues her last two years in high school or listening to other parents remind each other that Gabe is the Principal/AD/Coach’s son every time he gets playing time did it. Maybe it is the 20 years now of coaching other parents’ kids. Maybe it’s the knowing that I’ll never get to watch my youngest son even play t-ball. But something along the line has allowed me to enjoy the ride like I didn’t before.
Starting out this past basketball season, Gabe was the 9th guy in the game in a 9-man rotation. Instead of going home upset or mouthing about the coach, I loved that he started going to the gym early and staying late to earn more minutes from his coach and the trust of his teammates.
Watching him struggle in the district tournament was a great time to remind him he was part of a team and they won those games anyway. Seeing him lead his team in scoring in a game to qualify for the state tournament almost made my chest explode. But my heart was equally filled with pride as he played in that state championship game, even though he didn’t score a point. Because I watched how hard he played, how much he loved watching his teammates succeed, how emotionally invested he was in his team, and well. . . I just enjoyed the ride.
I know that one day he will be a great father and husband. So will JP. I know that Kara will be a great wife and mother. I pray that they all find the path that the Lord has designed for them. I pray that they love God and other people and spend a life serving both.
Right now, our seasons are that Kara is working hard to be a great college student and prepare for life, and the boys work hard to improve on basketball and baseball (and even study sometimes!).
Less than five years ago, they were 14, 11, and 9 (and 2). Our seasons were much different.
Ten years from now, they’ll be 29, 26, and 24. You think that is a long time? It wasn’t that long that Gabe and JP were catching ground ball tennis-balls with a tiny glove and Kara was in pigtails on my shoulders.
I know this: I miss what we’ve passed. And at the same time, I can’t wait to see what is yet to come. But, one thing I don’t want to do is over-think, over-stress, over-complain, and over – well. . . , anything. . . and miss the joy in the moment.
By the way, the full list that I conjured on the spot is pretty sound advice as well:
- Don’t run in the dark
- Don’t spit towards the wind
- Don’t eat yellow snow
Wherever you are, mom. Whatever season it is, dad. Just enjoy the ride!
There is an occasion for everything, and a time for every activity under heaven.