Nicaragua Diary, Day 20
Saturday wasn’t the best day. I did some things wrong, made some mistakes, and some parts simply didn’t work. It reminded me of a prayer I heard the first year was a Christian. I was counseling at a summer camp, excited to tell about Jesus but completely unequipped to take on middle-schoolers. We were having our Sunday worship service, during the 28 hours or whatever it was that we didn’t have eight kids each week. One of the camp leaders prayed that God would give us patience and peace for the inanimate objects that didn’t work as we hoped. I’ve always remembered that and tried to stay conscious of it.
But Saturday I failed. Neither animate nor inanimate worked as I hoped and I lost both my patience and my peace. Of course, so much of life is how we respond to our negative circumstances. Saturdays are supposed to be a rejuvenative day for me but by the afternoon I had to take a few hours away from my family to restore what the day had depleted.
My wife had gone away for the weekend and my daughters here had an overnight planned with a friend. (Note: All plans were made previous to the weekend, meaning they didn’t go just to escape me–though I’m sure they were glad to have those plans.) That meant once I dropped them off, I had just my 10-year-old son for the next twenty-four hours.
While we were in the States for the summer, we’d seen a couple baseball games together. Having shown only mild interest previously, my son decided he now loves baseball. I absolutely loved baseball at his age–and still do. We “played baseball” a few times back there, meaning hitting practice and playing catch. We’d committed to playing twice a week here because he enjoys it and wants to improve.
I’m sure no other parent has ever experienced this, but I’d failed to keep that commitment thus far. Circumstances, busyness, “I can’t right now,” all the poor reasons that feel, logistically, like they make it impossible at that moment…and then all the moments add up. I carry some serious regrets for things I planned to do with my kids at certain ages that didn’t happen or barely happened–again, I’m assuming I’m unique in this.
So Saturday was it–baseball as soon as we dropped off the girls.
“Yaaaay!’ Corin shouted when I told him.
But I got delayed coming back from my recovery time, due to a traffic accident. The police rarely move cars off the road after an accident here, prefering to investigate and question with the scene exactly how it happened–which causes a few problems for other drivers. A semi had hit a car or vice versa. No one appeared injured, but they were taking up most of the highway and the rest of us were trying to merge and squeak by.
It was getting later. Nearer the equator, days are all nearly the same length and it gets dark quickly; night falls, hard. But I got back with some daylight left, stopped to pick them all up and grab our baseball stuff, and drove quickly to the friend’s house, passing the school. My son begged me to drop them off at the gate instead of driving in to the house. I think he might have suggested going straight to school and letting them figure out the last several kilometers on their own.
Then, just as we got back to our school where there is grass(ish) and space to play, rain started falling. Hard. Huge drops coming fast.
But Corin and I didn’t blink. Actually, that’s not true; we had to blink the water out of our eyes. In fact, I had to wipe away the rain pouring into my eyes. Nonetheless, we ran out and played. No one was competing with us for the space. The light was fading, the rain was pouring, lightning was striking: “One, tw–” BOOM!
But we played baseball. He just hit the whole time.
My dad, who had health problems and various issues, showed me love by spending hours and hours playing baseball with me. I’ve tried not to push the sports I love on my kids–and feel like I’ve erred both ways, letting my enthusiasm get the better of me, failing to teach them so that when the time came and they wanted to, they were too far behind.
It’s a tribute to the effectiveness of my restorative time, to answered prayer, or both that, instead of getting frustrated with more challenging circumstances, I just made the best of what we had. The last pitch he hit more by reflexes than sight. The rain stopped in the middle of our session, then started up again and was absolutely pouring by the time we made it back to our car. The drive home was scary; I could barely see the cars in front of me. We got to park in our own driveway for the first time since our road construction started–two months ago?
The rest of our father-son time we had a blast. We watched a little baseball,* made chocolate-banana-peanut butter smoothies, and played Lego Star Wars for hours. In the morning we made pancakes together.
I don’t have that many parenting moments that I’m confident I get right. Parenting isn’t an easily evaluated vocation. I think we’ve served our children well by providing the opportunity here for them to learn Spanish. I believe living here has been good for them, but they pay costs in terms of extended family, especially. Parenting is making the best decision you can and hoping it was right…or at least redeemable.
But baseball in the rain, that one was good.
I asked my son, as we were running back to the car, “Did you have a good time?”
“No, I had the best time.”
*We tried to tune in a game here but it didn’t really work so we ended up watching some highlights from Saturday’s games.