(To hear Cat Stevens' classic Father And Son, please click above!)
We are still on Christmas break and it was not a lifting day for me so I worked in two trips to the pool this first Friday of 2014. The place was crowded this morning and I was blessed to find an available lane from the six. You have to time it just right because the pool at my fitness club has only one shower in the men's locker room and I prefer a little privacy....... and my timing was perfect this A.M. Sandwiched in around a number of errands several hours ago was my second water workout of the day. I have a confession to make; I left the pool this afternoon with a sense of sadness. It wasn't because the water was too cold (although a few degrees warmer would not make me mad!) or there were too many other swimmers to enjoy my exercise. It had to do with the other two occupants.
As I walked up to the water to put my bag down on a bench, I said hello to a man in the pool. I asked about the water temp and we chatted for about thirty seconds before I jumped in. He was not alone. With him was his son who I estimated to be about seven. Let me tell you how I work out in the pool. I swim a length and then run back to the other end. It isn't easy- many athletes rehab injuries doing just that. But having my head out of the water let me witness the interaction between the two generations. Ten minutes after I began, the dad was ready to go and he got out of the water. He called to his boy, "Let's go!" The son ignored him. The father waited a minute or two and repeated himself. Again, his son acted as if his dad were invisible. It happened again...and again... and again... for at least ten minutes. The father was obviously frustrated and maybe embarrassed that I could see what was happening. Finally, the boy tired of the game and got out. I could not tell who was more relieved, me or his father. Probably me- it looks like the dad is used to it.
Reflecting on the protracted scene, I decided I felt sorry for both of them. I feel sorry for the boy because if he doesn't learn obedience, he's facing a life of conflict because others in positions of authority won't be as benevolent as your own flesh and blood. And I feel sorry for the father because he seemed powerless to make a child, his child, behave and obey the simplest command. Let me say I never assume I know how to raise children because I don't- the Lord has never given me that blessing. I have all the admiration in the world for all of you moms and dads- what a responsibility! I also admire this father for taking time with his son. He interacted well with him in the water and it's obvious he loves him. Maybe it's a custody case and he is limited in access to his own offspring. I don't know any background of the family. Still, I left with sadness because I remembered my dad. My folks set boundaries from infancy and we became comfortable with authority; in teachers, coaches, bosses, etc. I could not have blatantly disobeyed my father (or mother)- it just never would have occurred to me. So tonight, I pray for that dad and other dads and moms that they love their children enough to discipline them, no matter how difficult the circumstances may be. And Dad? Thanks.
Applicable quote of the day:
“I believe that what we become depends on what our fathers teach us at odd moments, when they aren't trying to teach us. We are formed by little scraps of wisdom.”
E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org