When my son was born in 2004, I considered myself quite the expert on parenting. I had grandiose plans for when the baby arrived, plans that were unceremoniously chucked out the window that first year. I had planned on having a healthy child and an easy recovery. The best laid schemes of mice and men…
Before having kids, I was chock full of judgment. Judgment of the parents whose kids howled through Target. Judgment of the children who barreled down the aisles of restaurants in which I dined, leaving a path of carnage in their wake. Judgment of people who took kids to R-rated movies. (Okay, I admit, I still don’t understand that. Small children do not need be in loud, violent movies!)[pullquote type="2" align="right"]“I’m sure that the dad sitting in the stands who thought that it was okay to make fun of an eight-year-old boy for crying didn’t realize that the boy’s mom was sitting six feet away from him.”[/pullquote]
I would like to think that after raising children for almost nine years that I am more compassionate. That I more freely give the benefit of the doubt. Maybe that mom staring blindly at the card section in Target while her toddler screams at the top of his lungs is not ignoring the child, but barely clinging to her composure.
I have written on my personal blog about my son’s love of baseball and his highly competitive nature. Winning is very important to Cooper. Striking out or being tagged out is very frustrating. Often that frustration comes out in the form of tears. Very angry tears.
I believe that God places certain people in our lives when we need them. He knew that Cooper would need compassionate coaches to guide him through his tears and frustrations when baseball did not go his way. His team has been such a blessing to us – they are very good to my boy. Not everyone possesses the gift of coaching kids (and the enormous amount of patience that goes along with it), but these gentlemen have it in spades.
During the last game of the fall season, Cooper was having a banner night. He caught a foul ball at catcher and made some impressive plays at pitcher. Unfortunately, when it was his turn to bat, he hit the ball straight to the second baseman who threw him out. As he angrily ran back to the dugout, I could see the tears threatening to erupt.
I am sure that the dad sitting in the stands who thought that it was okay to make fun of an eight-year-old boy for crying didn’t realize that the boy’s mom was sitting six feet away from him. I can try to dig deep (really deep) inside to find the compassion to acknowledge that maybe he had a hard day at work, or just did not understand how his mocking words could be so hurtful.
But like I said earlier, God always knows when we need a little encouragement and sometimes he sends that comfort in the form of an energetic team mom. Kari is the type of compassionate person who is always ready with a kind word and a hug, and fortunately for me she was close by. This baseball mom needed a hug that night.
It is our responsibility as parents to try to teach our children how to be happy and successful in life. But the longer I am at this parenting game, the more I realize that they are teaching so much more. This stage of life with my son has taught me not to worry about what others think so much. To not be so concerned with being liked. It has taught me to crawl out of my own head sometimes and recognize when someone needs a helping hand, or just an encouraging smile.
I would like to think that I have taught Cooper a few things: how to catch a fly ball, why it is important to be a good friend, and of course, the art of sarcasm.
And he has taught me compassion.