Do Parents Really Care?
By Jim Burns
My boyhood goal was to play on the La Palma Little League All-Star team. It was now a reality. We were playing West Anaheim, and I was pitching. What could have been a dream come true became a nightmare.
It started in the first inning: The leadoff hitter walked, the second guy hit a shot to right-center field for a double, then I walked the third batter. With the bases loaded I hung a curve ball and the clean-up hitter . . . cleaned up! He put that curve ball over the fence for a grand slam. Ouch!
I felt humiliated. After only four batters the coach moved me to shortstop, where I made three errors in the next five innings! I also struck out twice. Needless to say, it wasn't a good day. But now it was the last inning and I had a chance to redeem myself. We were all tied up, 6-6, and the bases were loaded as I walked up to bat. Until this day, I had the best batting average in the league. Despite my earlier strikeouts, everyone seemed confident that I could win the game for La Palma.
First pitch ... I watched it go right over the plate. Strike one. Second pitch, Caught the corner. Strike two. I was feeling the tension. I stepped out of the batter's box and looked at my dad. He gave me the thumbs-up sign. The third pitch came straight down the middle of the plate. I watched it go by. Strike three. I almost single-handedly lost the game! The other team emerged as champions. I had never been more miserable in my life. I cried like a baby. I didn't want to talk to anyone ... especially my dad. All my life he'd played catch with me, hit me grounders, and threw batting practice. He'd been there to instruct and encourage me. Now, I'd let him down. I knew he'd be disappointed. I couldn't face him.
After unenthusiastically congratulating the other team, our coach told us it had been a great year. He said, "We should be proud." Right! I couldn't put it off any longer. I had to face my dad. I slowly gathered my glove, bat, and jacket, then looked up. There he was running toward me. I knew I'd failed him. I was sure he was going to say something like "You should never watch three strikes go by when the bases are loaded. " Instead, he rushed over to me, gave me a big bear hug and literally picked me up. Instead of anger there were tears in his eyes. And he said, "Jimmy, I'm so proud of you."
That night we ate a couple of cheeseburgers and drowned our sorrows in chocolate milk shakes. He told me a story about a time he'd failed miserably in the most important game of the season. We laughed and cried together. My dad never was very mushy and he wasn't the type of guy to tell me he loved me. But when I saw the tears in his eyes, I knew everything would be okay.
Perfect Parents? No one has a perfect relationship with his parents - OBVIOUSLY. Some days go great, others are disastrous! However, I believe God placed you in your family for a reason. You're someone special, so He chose your parents before you were born (see Psalm 139:13). Though it's true not all parents take that God-given responsibility seriously, I was fortunate; mine did.
God showed His care by placing me with Bob and Donna Burns in Anaheim, Calif. It wasn't my choice, it was HIS idea. Were rny parents absolutely perfect? Nope. (Then again, I wasn't the perfect son, either.)
Realizing then that everyone needs some extra slack, here's some simple advice:
- Don't fight it. Accept the fact they'll be your parents forever. If you can look at your parents as a special gift, you'll see the relationship in a different light.
- Do everything you possibly can to keep the relationship growing and positive. Take the initiative in patching things up after a disagreement, invite them out for ice cream, ask about their day -- you know, the stuff they do to keep things strong with you.
- Once in a while, put yourself in their shoes and try to understand what they're going through.
- Lower your expectations a bit, and look for ways your parents are attempting to show they care. For my mom and dad it was attending my baseball games, letting my friends stay overnight or go on a vacation with us, and their "nagging" about getting good grades.
- Make the right observations: (a) Look at what they do each day as they try to give you a normal life. (b) Think about what they like to do in their "spare time," but don't -- or can't! (c) Notice how little (if any) they complain about you or the work they do to keep the family rolling along.
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