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Photo: Karen Roach
I walk my dog every evening. More often than not, I see a father and his two sons in the front yard of one house on the route. They are practicing baseball. As I near the corner, I hear a steady “tink” of an aluminum bat hitting something. Not regulation baseballs usually, but hollow plastic whiffle-balls. Dad, on a camp stool, pulls balls out of a bucket, and casually tosses them one after another. One of the boy cuts at the ball with his bat. The balls are too light to go far when hit. They land in the front yard. The other boy runs around gathering up the balls, and putting them in a second bucket. When the first bucket is empty, the boys trade places. 

The man is in his late thirties. One boy is tall and lanky, about twelve or thirteen years old. The other boy may be five. The older boy generally hits the tossed balls. Kid brother connects less than half the time. He really tries, though. He wants to do as well as his older brother.

Sometimes they play catch – tossing the ball back and forth among each other. Sometimes dad tosses balls high in the air, giving his sons practice at shagging fly balls. Sometimes dad is in a catcher’s crouch while the older boy throws heat – as much as a twelve-year-old can throw a fastball.

What strikes me is that over the circuit I walk, this house is generally the only one where parents are doing something with their children. Many neighborhood houses have children – perhaps one in four. Children walk around the neighborhood in clusters, much as I remember doing back when I was a child. But only in front of this house to I regularly see dad out in front of the house, with his children. 

Spending Time

I am sure than some neighborhood parents do things with their kids at activities outside home. Yet I also know many neighborhood parents spend the evening in front of the television. They tell themselves their children have their own interests. Why would they want to spend time with the parents?

It is an easy trap to fall into. Then the question rises who is really raising your children? Not you. You may provide them with food, clothing and a place to eat, but someone else is molding them into adults. That someone or some ones is whomever they are with. It may be other children, if that is with whom your children spend their time. Then what? I doubt children have better judgment than adults.

The father playing ball with his boys is giving his children the most precious thing that he has to give – his time. It is something they will remember when they are adults and hopefully pass on to their kids.

I sometimes think about telling that dad what a great job he is doing. I never do, though. Maybe he realizes already the importance of a simple game of catch.

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By Mark Lardas. Copyright © 2009 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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