We are a golfing family. I had the good fortune to play in high school and in college, my wife took up the game after we married, and our kids both enjoy being out on the course, although not always to play!
Yesterday, I took my youngest daughter, Naomi, out with me to play a quick 18 holes. We brought her clubs, but she decided she wanted to be my caddie more than a player. She had never been my caddie before, and since we were in a cart, there was no need for her to carry my bag or pick clubs for me. Although I can only imagine what thoughts others would have of me as a dad if they saw my little girl carrying my big golf bag.
Instead, she sat in the cart, waiting for her time once we reached the green to go pull the flagstick out of the hole. She learned quickly that daddy likes to bring a towel with him to the green to clean his golf ball. She also knew that if I was off the green, I would need two clubs, not one, and she generously carried my putter & towel to the green and waited for me to hit my chip shot. Then we’d swap, and she would go take care of the flagstick.
We would spend our time between shots talking about horses and castles and butterflies, and then we would get back to golf. What really took me by surprise, and delighted my heart, was when she started telling me to believe in myself, and that I could do it. I think she picked up on the fact that I wasn’t too happy with the shots I was hitting, as she once said, “Dad, I’m getting tired of hearing you grunting all the time.” I didn’t exactly know what she meant, until she acted out what she had been seeing from me. Hit a shot, then grunt in disappointment. I immediately recognized myself in her impression, which was spot on.
Instead of telling me to stop grunting, she did something amazing – she chose to encourage me. On every shot from that point on, she would say, “Dad, you just need to believe in yourself and have faith you can hit a good shot. You can do it!” From the mouth of an 8-year old, it was the sweetest thing a dad could hear, and it reminded me of a couple of things I often fail to remember:
- Our kids are watching and learning from us. When I was a high school and college basketball player, my coaches would instruct us on how to play defense, how to block out, how to dribble, how to shoot, etc. We were learning skills to be better players, but we were also learning something else. After my playing days, I had the chance to coach high school boys play basketball, and as it turned out, I coached them just about the exact same way I was coached in high school and college. I wasn’t just learning how to play the game, but through observation, I was learning how to coach. Our kids are doing the same thing in regards to life. Not only are they learning skills for living, but they are also learning how to parent. Scary thought, isn’t it?
- Our kids know more than we think. We often don’t give kids credit for what they know, maybe because they are quiet, or maybe because they aren’t able to communicate it as effectively as an adult. Either way, it would be wise of us to not assume kids are ignorant, but rather to continually ask them what they know about a certain topic. They might surprise us about what they actually know, or…
- Our kids can teach us a thing or two from time to time. Like an old diary, kids have the uncanny ability to remind us of something we said to them earlier, and sometimes it’s just what we need to hear. Don’t be surprised, especially as our kids get older, to realize they are teaching us something we have either failed to remember or never knew in the first place.
What a blessing and a gift God has given us in our kids. I pray I won’t forget moments like these, especially when this parenting gig is a little tougher than it was yesterday.