As the oil was applied, a joyful shout came from a crowd of parents watching a little league game. This reminded me of another afternoon when Jodie and I came to this park to watch kids play ball. We hardly had time to appreciate the miniature uniforms and the kids' game faces before parents all around us were shouting at their kids. Reminders included:
- "Keep your eye on the ball";
- "Be ready for a grounder";
- "You don't have to be right on the bag, honey".
Then a ball was hit soundly and a lot of action ensued, with a corresponding increase in parental shouting. This concluded with a play at home plate, where the runner was tagged and called out. Half of the parents' voices raised in pitch and volume. Whatever this teenage umpire was being paid, it was not enough. I was soon embarrassed for these parents. I repressed an urge to cut a hole in the fence in left field and set these kids free from this.
We were not able to stay after this. Jodie and walked away from the scene and talked about how the tendencies we observed are likely in us too, waiting for the arrival of a child who will esteem our opinions more than we probably deserve. With what would we replace these tendencies? How could we honor our kids instead?
To hear Sherry read that children come through us, not to us, and that they are not our belongings, was a beautiful corrective. This points toward another way to love our children. We are watching the parents around us honor their children by protecting them, denying them some things, letting them play, letting them make choices. Here is another way in which we continue to be blessed and healed as we watch and pray with this body.