It was his first-ever Opening Day, and he was excited. Caleb (four years old) fell in love with baseball last year. He began memorizing the names of the players, watching the games carefully, and looking for his favorite player among the team members. When someone offered us the Opening Day tickets, I knew that he was the perfect choice as my companion for the day. This was also going to be great, because since moving we haven’t been able to spend as much time together as I would like, and I knew the intentional time would be good for both of us.
We left early for the game, and, with all the pre-game festivities, there was no shortage of entertainment. Caleb and I danced, looked at the statues, and watched the opposing team take batting practice. When the game started, he was entrenched in the moment, watching carefully as the ball whisked from pitcher to catcher and everywhere else in the stadium. Then, his favorite player (Jay Bruce) walked up to the plate. When the pitch came in, Bruce made an epic swing and the ball flew out of the park as if it were attached to a jet pack. The best part about that home run was Caleb’s face; I think he was convinced that Bruce hit that home run for him.
As the game continued, it was close. We saw great pitching, stolen bases, sacrifices, and, in the bottom of the eighth inning, we saw a three-run homer for the win. The stadium erupted. High fives were being distributed among complete strangers. Caleb and I were screaming at the top of our lungs.
Then amidst the chaos of the victory, Caleb leapt from his seat so that he could give me a hug. He clung from my neck with his cheek pressed firmly against mine. He squeezed me with all the power his four-year old arms could muster. It was definitely the highlight of the game for me. When I asked him what his favorite part of the game was, thinking he would say – home runs, stolen bases, Chapman pitching 100 mph fastball – his response was simply, “The amazing ice cream we had.”
As we ventured home, I watched him sleep in the back seat, thumb in mouth, baseball glove in his lap and I realized something: he learned what to be excited about from me. His love for baseball (and probably ice cream) came from watching my love of baseball. The enormity of the situation hit me: His passions are my passions. My behaviors are exactly how he is learning to respond. At the end of the night when we were both tucked tightly into our beds, I was left with a very interesting question:
Am I living a life worth emulating?
I suspect that in every relationship we have all of us have some ability to influence. Through words, actions, and passions, parts of us are going to be imprinted on those around us. My prayer for all of us is that we are intentional about what we are teaching, and that we remember that our lives will be the biggest teaching moments of them all.