Posted tagged ‘Playing’

Grandkids Negotiations

August 3, 2019

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                    August 3, 2019


It has been “Grandkid Week” for Carol and me. Their mom, and our oldest daughter, went back to school for several days of teacher’s meetings. That, plus she and our son-in-law are participating in a race this weekend called “The Beast”, so we’ve got the three “grands” until Sunday afternoon. By then I may be the beast!

For reference, they are ages 4, 8, and 11…close in age if you fast forwarded about 30 years, but worlds apart this weekend.

If I was updating my resume I could add the experience of “grandchildren negotiator”, for you see getting these three to agree on what activity they want to do, movie they want to watch, dinner entree they want to eat, and bed they want to sleep in is on par with getting China and the U.S.A. to shake hands on a trade agreement.

Dissension surfaces in the form of whining and stomping away from the bargaining table.

“No, Jesse!” directs the four year old. “You’re the bad man. Reagan and I are the good guys!”

“I don’t want to be the bad man.”

The four year old starts to whine. It’s her “go to” to get her way. “You have to.”

“How about,” offers the 8 year old, who often tries to find a way to compromise, “Jesse begins as the bad guy and then we’ll switch places after five minutes? And then, Corin, you’ll be the bad guy.”

The four year old digs in deeper. “No, I don’t want to be the bad guy.” She folds her arms in front of her to reinforce her position of no compromise. It is a picture of conflict between differing personalities and ages. 

They can not come to agreement. The compromiser looks for common ground, but the ground is loose sand that is constantly shifting. 

Time for Granddad to offer arbitration to settle the differences. Reagan will be in agreement, Jesse will consider it, and Corin will frown about any solution that differs from her way. She is the strong-willed child who will someday be either a corporate CEO, the owner of a professional baseball team, or entrepreneur with a defined vision. 

“How about if all of you are the good guys doing battle with an invisible bad guy?”

Jesse agrees and starts play-acting as if he has a light saber. Corin frowns. Reagan says to her sister, “And Corin, we can pretend that we’re protecting the newborn baby from the bad guys.” It has the feel of a similar storyline from the first two chapters of Matthew. It’s her Sunday School lessons emerging in her play. She reasons with her sister and puts her arm around her shoulders to help her understand the value of the scenario. 

The added touch brings the four year old back to agreement and for the next 15 minutes they work together on the mission. The 11 year old then decides he doesn’t want to play any more…and the whole series of negotiations starts over again.

Meanwhile, Carol and I are envisioning a different storyline, one that involves naps…long naps!

Playing Big With Little People

April 15, 2012

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                      April 15, 2012

Saturday morning I was at the soccer game that the daughter of my nephew was playing in. She’s in third grade, which translated means that most of the parents there had cups of Starbucks coffee in their hands, or coffee staying hot in a thermos. (I waited until after the game to go to Starbucks! Willpower!)

Gracie had a great time playing, as did all of the kids. No one had told them yet that “This is serious business…so wipe that smile off your face!”

Meanwhile, something else caught my attention. On the field right behind us a game involving four year old’s was taking place. One of the coaches was an African-American man who was so big he looked by a tree house that the kids could climb on. I’m guessing…and I believe I’m quite accurate on this one…that he played football. He was so big that he could have played Right Guard…and Left Guard …on the same play.

And he was having a ball! And because he was having a ball the players on both teams were having a ball! One time I looked over and he was dangling a young boy upside down. I’m not even sure it was a player on his own team, but the boy was laughing and in a moment of “life delight!”

The coach congratulated and high-fived players on both teams. He helped little girls who tripped back on their feet. He shouted encouragement.

He played big with the little people. He inspired me!

As a coach I get the tremendous privilege of influencing young people, helping them improve their skills, learn from their mistakes, mentor them in life lessons through the lens of a game. I fan the flame of their passion for the game, while not losing sight of their youthfulness.

Although I’m not as big as the soccer coach of the four year old’s, in some ways I get to play big with the little people. I get to guide them in having fun.

In the youth sports culture we’ve lost most of that.

Like the coach who has his sixth grade girls’ basketball team press their opponents full-court even though they are up by thirty at the start of the fourth quarter.

Or the coach who plays his main group and then when, because of a mandatory league rule, he puts the last kid on the bench in to pinch hit, he commands him not to swing at any pitch because the player never makes contact. He robs him of the sound of a baseball meeting wood, because he’s short-sighted.

Or the coach who had no success as an athlete growing up, so he’s going to win at any cost with the youth team he’s coaching now.

Or the two coaches who get into a fight after the game in front of their players, who all stand there with mouths wide open in shock.

The list could go on for pages. Somewhere and at sometime we lost the thrill and sheer joy of playing big with the little people.

The joy of playing children is a sign of the blessing of God upon Jerusalem in the Old Testament book of Zechariah (chapter 8). In The Message paraphrase of Zechariah 8:4 it says, “And boys and girls will fill the public parks, laughing and playing- a good city to grow up in.”

I love that! I pray that we regain that scene.

I hope I run into “the man child” again at the next soccer outing. I’m going to tell him how he inspired me, how he brought a smile to my face, how his “playing big” brought a little glimpse of God’s delight!