Monday, March 11, 2013

A relative I am very proud of . . .

Monday, March 11
“That’s my son!” This cliche is used to illustrate parental pride in a child’s achievements, whether it be for athletic or academic success. It’s only natural for parents to be proud of their offspring and even to have a somewhat exaggerated view of their son’s—or daughter’s—prowess. I love all sports and still compete in church league softball as one of the oldest players in the league, so of course when I was a young parent, I hoped my kids would excel at sports so I could spend happy hours on the sidelines proudly watching them succeed.

I have always been only slightly above average in sports, but that didn’t mean that my children couldn’t be better than I was. Many strong athletes have come from parents who were not outstanding at sports, so I could always hope that might be the case with my children. But when your kids are only in elementary school, its hard to tell just how good they will be.

One opportunity to find out came during the annual field day at Artondale Elementary School, where my son Randy attended. I was an enlightened parent, and I was going to be supportive of Randy’s participation even if he finished last, though I knew that he was reasonably athletic and there was little chance of that. Running was never my forte, but might Randy have some hidden natural talent in running that he had never had a chance to show previously?

The kids lined up in the field for the long distance race, which took them off school grounds, through a nearby subdivision, back onto the school field and then around the school before finishing back on the field. Randy took off at a good pace, not so fast that he would wear himself out, and running smoothly and steadily. I watched him disappear through a trail in the woods with the other runners and awaited their return, hoping that he would be among the leaders in his age group. When he appeared in the middle of the pack, I cheered him as any dutiful dad would do, and he smiled and gave a little wave.

He looks fresh, I thought. He can’t win now, but maybe he’ll really put on a kick in the loop around the school and still come out among the leaders. Come on, Randy!

Then I moved over to watch the kids emerge from the other side of the school. No Randy. I watched some more. By now, the other kids who had been running with Randy when they started around the school had finished minutes ago. But still no Randy.

Finally, he emerged, still looking happy and fresh, but he was in the bottom quarter of the finishers by now. Still I greeted him with a hug and a smile. He gave it his best, he completed the course—I knew he was a wonderful son, even if he wasn’t going to be a star runner. But just how wonderful I wasn’t to find out until a few minutes later.

On the drive home, the competitive father in me couldn’t help probing just a little. “You seemed to be doing pretty well when you started around the school,” I told him, “but it took you a long time to get back to the field. Did you have to take a rest?”

“Oh,” said Randy, “a boy fell down on the side hill on the back side and he looked like he was really hurt. I had to stop and help him.”

Oh, indeed. “That was such a nice thing for you to do,” I said, while I thought about what I probably would have done when I was his age, which is run right past that boy, thinking that’s one more competitor I’ll beat. Heck, I probably would have done that when I was a lot older than his age. After all, the race was almost over, and I could always go back to check on the injured boy later. Anyhow, isn’t that what the race officials are for?

But Randy didn’t seem to think his stopping was a big deal, and I don’t think he was even planning to tell what he did. He didn’t feel the need to explain why he didn’t finish higher in the race, nor did he plan to claim any recognition for helping someone in need. He just did what he thought he should do.

My son went on to love sports and the joys of competition. He played on many teams, though he never won many individual awards. Like me, he is only a bit above average athletically. However, he did win a four-year university scholarship granted for Christian leadership. Today he continues to help others as a country program manager for the international aid organization World Vision.

I know that the father of the boy or girl who won the long distance race went home justifiably proud of his child. But every time I tell this story, I can’t help the tears that well up in my eyes. No father could prouder than I was that day—and I still am.


  1. Awww. Wandy. My favorite when we were kids was when he went through the phase of "Jesus would turn the other cheek." So I had a good time walloping on him, until he changed his mind and decided to wrestle me back. - S

  2. Nice connection with today and the past.



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