Some days are appropriately used for diversion and pleasurable experiences to help us forget about the daily routines of work and parenting, the grind of commuting, children, and events that give us stress, and do something out of the ordinary that makes us happy, like going for a walk, having a nice lunch, breathing fresh air, planting flowers, visiting an old friend, and getting some exercise. Knowing that it is good for the soul to be lighthearted, chipper and silly once in a while, I decided to play golf.
There was no reason for me to think about adoption issues yesterday—until it suddenly dawned on me how many similarities there are between raising children and the game of golf. Faith is important because they both involve an endless series of tragedies obscured by an occasional miracle and there’s seldom any evidence of the things that you prayed for—and there is always the lingering expectation that you’ll do better next time. A battle of wits, providence, penitence, and pleadings for redemption, mulligans and gimmies are about equal in both cases. Golf is all about execution, potential and accomplishment—the same feelings of wonder and joy that a parent experiences when a child accomplishes something extraordinary.
We dream and fantasize about all the wonderful things children will do when they grow up until we come to the realization that there may be an errant deviation in their life’s trajectory—like when your golf ball deviates off course and ends up in the rough or at the bottom of a pond. Parents live vicariously through their children, the same way fanatical amateur golfers emulate professionals making millions of dollars on television. Some kids watch too much television according to the parents and kids are quick to complain about the golf channel being left on all day. Learning good manners and teaching morals and ethics are important aspects of the game of golf and child rearing, but we seldom pay any attention to our playing partners and children unless someone is incredibly suffering, throwing things, or screaming obscenities.
Golf is fickle and expensive like children—but you can’t resist the illusory joy even though you know you may loose money and end up with a broken heart. In both cases, our patience is always being tested by a lack of consistency and an inability to focus on realistic expectations. Mornings mean choosing something colorful to wear that meets the dress code. You typically get off to a good start with high hopes and but then something inevitably happens and you or your child suffers a brain cramp. Every child wants to achieve a high score on their tests and every golfer strives to lower their handicap. Performance is continuously scored, recorded, handicapped, and posted for everyone to see—when scores are below expectations, we blame the instructor and optimistically agree to pay for private lessons and buy more technical aids. When things go well and outcomes exceed our expectations, we brag excessively and in great detail.
Golfers tell humorous antidotes about golfing partners and parents brag about their children’s mini achievements. They both prattle on about many of the same nonsensical things when achievement is high and use expletives to describe unprintable frustrations when they aren’t. Nonverbal communication, including furrowed brows, rolled eyes, clenched teeth, and red faces are often the most telling signs for understanding the hidden feelings and frustrations of parents and golfers that are normally difficult to communicate in an objectively explicit manner. Pantomime, gestures, emotional whining, slang vocabulary and exaggerations are routinely used to enhance communication and convey ideas.
Children and golfers test our patience at times. Children wear “Pampers” and when they poop in their pants someone is always there to help, praise, and hug them but when an adult golfer wears a diaper it “Depends” who is named in the will as to who will help them. Always remember to have faith and pray for a better outcome next time. Settle on reasonable expectations. Remind yourself that it’s okay to vary your daily routine and be silly once in a while, as long as you wear something colorful and keep the children’s best interests in mind.