Last night I raced home from work to change my clothes and grab a snack before leaving the house to play racquetball with a group of friends. By the time I returned home, my kids were on their way to bed. That same morning I saw them for a few minutes before leaving for work.
Nothing more than a quick conversation here and there. Time didn’t allow for anything more. Not much difference in how I was raised. When I was young, my father was either coming or going. He worked so mom could be home with us.
It all makes me wonder how much influence I have with my children. Not just today but down the road. Or am I merely a blur, always on the go?
And then I think of all the people who had a hand in teaching and raising me. I’m convinced that raising children requires a mix of effort, focus and sheer luck.
I remember the cub scout leader who taught me how to sew a button on a shirt and tie a number of useful sounding knots. That was offset by the neighbor who taught me how to win a fight with Roman Candles and craft a slingshot using surgical tubing.
Or the friend who taught me how to play chess and solve a Rubik’ Cube.
Or the neighborhood punk who taught me how to play pinball at pool. He’s the same one who taught me how to spin pennies into the Gorf machine for free games. Or shake the vending machine for extra Zingers.
Looking back, I didn’t do anything too illegal or dangerous. Unless you count setting a field on fire, but that was extinguished quickly before any homes were engulfed.
And I suppose this is why I worry about my own children. I know others will have an influence in their lives, and I probably won’t know it until I hear the sirens.
But I know many of these awkward teaching opportunities will be followed by moments that have a lasting impact on their lives. Many will come from people I’ve never met.
But they will happen.
Like the time a teacher pulled me aside to explain why I should be kind to everyone in class. Or the time a coach spent his weekend working with me on my hitting stance. Or the instructor at church who encouraged me to serve a mission. Or the woman at church who told me I had a nice smile.
I’m counting on life maintaining a natural balance. May the story times outnumber the smoke bombs.