I think every parent has that moment when they think, proudly, “well THAT went well.” For some it’s compliments from others on their lovely child. For others it might be honor roll, student council or “always a delight in class” scrawled on each and every report card.
If you are a parent raising a “good kid” it’s easy, I admit, to get a little bit smug. Clearly, you’ve got it going on. Your child is doing just fine. Then, other times, it’s not.
As usual, we are at a soccer game. It is the second half and our daughter’s new team is up by five points (in soccer that’s a shut-out). Our son is filling in today and this team is brand new to us. Mr. Wonderful has been asked to assist the coach. I’m on the bleacher side, alone.
I’m not a loud fan. I sip my tea and golf-clap. I’m quietly proud. I don’t really know the other parents here.
Our son, if I may say so, shone the entire first half. People have wondered aloud “who is that kid?” I’ve smiled and kept mum. No one likes a braggart.
Now it’s the second half. Wonderboy is goalie. The game is going well. Suddenly — a whistle! All action freezes. The coaches on both sides are confused. The referee is quietly explaining his reasoning to those gathered on the field. All wait.
As the nature of the call dawns, into the silence my son, my precious, my pride and joy, “good boy” drops the ball too forcefully and says loudly and clearly “Oh God!” You could almost HEAR his eyes roll from across the field. You could also have heard a pin drop in the shocked silence that followed. Then we heard a whistle.
For his insolence our son received a very- deserved yellow card from the referee and was ejected from the game. A two-minute time-out. He left the field quietly with his head down. Darn tootin’ he should. I could see, as he approached the sidelines, that Mr. Wonderful was gearing up for a come-to-Jesus with the boy as well.
I have NEVER been one of those “my kids are perfect” parents. I share this only to put out there that sometimes when you see abhorrent behavior and think “well clearly that child was raised by WOLVES” let me assure you that the child’s parents may be just as shocked as anyone. I honestly have no idea where that came from. None.
I sat quietly, wondering how low I had to go before my entire body sank through the metal bleachers and into blessed oblivion below.
There comes a moment as a parent when you can own your offspring’s imperfection or make excuses and rise up like a Mama Bear (a phrase I have come to regard as meaning the exact same thing as “excuse-making enabler,” although I understand others may disagree).
I won’t lie. It was tempting to take the easy way out. Some of the fans in the stands, upset less about my son as a person and more about losing their goalie, were certainly providing ample opportunity. “Oh come on! What’d the kid do? Big deal!” was a popular sentiment. Great, thanks Loud Guy. Maybe they’ll think he’s YOUR kid.
One fan opined that since “God” wasn’t actually “a swear” we should challenge the call. Was this guy SERIOUS?
You see, I think the good Lord himself (despite using his name in vain) gives us these moments to teach and remind us that we can think we did — and taught — “everything right” and sometimes our own beloved loved ones disappoint us.
It is not these things happening that tell who you are as a parent. It is how you react to them that becomes the defining moment. Our son embarrassed himself, his family and his team. As a parent I love my child enough to say “that is NOT O.K.”
Trust me, at the point the errant “oh God” left his lips, our son’s only hope for personal salvation with his parents was to immediately drop to his knees and CONTINUE praying. When it comes to combining pride, and hubris, in this thing we call life, he — and we — are going to need it.
(Kymberly Foster Seabolt keeps it humble. She welcomes comments c/o LifeOutLoud@comcast.net; P.O. Box 38, Salem, Ohio 44460; or KymberlyFosterSeabolt.com.)