Monday, August 29, 2005

Oh, The Places They'll Go

I’m not a big fan of sports movies, especially dramas. They’re usually very clichéd and follow the same basic premise: a group of disparate and often underestimated characters are brought together and accept the almighty concept of team which then culminates, in slow-motion, with either a dramatic victory or a heartbreaking loss that is actually a victory because they realize that it is the journey, not the result, that defines success. And someone dies or is maimed.

The one sports movie that I can think of that breaks from that mold, although there is a death, is also one of the few that I really like, Bang the Drum Slowly. It rarely gets mentioned by sports fans when the discussion turns to favorite movies, but it features great performances by a young Bobby De Niro and Michael Moriarty and is more gut-wrenchingly sad than Brian’s Song.

I did have occasion to watch Friday Night Lights this weekend, and even though it was a fairly typical sports story, it was quite enjoyable. Old Billy Bob may be a cad to his women and is a dang fool for leaving Angelina, but the boy can act. And of course the true life story of Booby Miles is one that every young athlete who thinks that their ticket is punched because they can run, jump, or throw should be made to know.

I thought of Booby when I read today’s SJ-R article on the young lady from Chatham who is pursuing her dream to be an Olympic* diver. I was somewhat taken aback by the comment that she will begin home schooling so that she can train all day. This makes me think that the schooling will be relegated for those evening hours that most kids reserve for a little homework.

What is even more troubling to me is how her training has taken her away from her family. I would never be so bold as to tell someone how to raise their child and I have no reason to believe that she won’t continue to grow as a well-rounded person despite the untraditional upbringing. Acknowledging that the hang-up is totally mine, I do have trouble understanding how a parent could give their daughter or son so fully to the pursuit of some activity that thrusts them out the door towards adulthood, when there’s still time remaining on their childhood.

My oldest daughter defied the very dimensions of time by turning six today. It doesn’t seem possible that my baby isn’t a baby anymore. And as quickly as the time has passed, it’s hard not to have an aching feeling when I think that in just twice that amount of time again, she’ll be leaving home on her quest to be an independent person who doesn’t need her daddy when the thunder get too loud.

I don’t know what I would do if one of my kids picked up a violin or jumped off a diving board and we discovered that he or she had a rare gift that required the finest instruction in a far away land to fully flourish. Part of me would want them to pursue that gift, if they truly did love it, but another part of me would want to break the violin and pretend the whole thing never happened.

Maybe I’m being selfish in wanting to hang on to my children as long as possible. Maybe it’s silly of me to think that if I don’t let my daughters get their ears pierced that they’ll stay little girls longer. Maybe it’s shortsighted that my dreams for my boys don’t take place on a football field on some distant Friday night, but in our backyard tonight. Time will show me the foibles of my ways soon enough I suppose.

Kids don’t stay kids forever like they do in the movies. And even though I can’t run the upcoming years in slow motion as I might like, I’ll do everything I can from hitting fast forward. Instead, I’ll enjoy each and every scene as it plays out across a totally unpredictable story arc that will result in a dramatic victory. But even then, it’s the journey that really matters.

*I may have committed a copyright infringement for unauthorized use of the adjectival form of the word Olympic. Apparently, they’re quite sensitive about such things.

1 comment:

Dan M. said...

Really?......My kids are a pain in the ass.

Just kidding.