She was literally about to be introduced when I made it to the field. It was 8th grader recognition night. Parents got to escort their daughters on the field. There were posters and flowers and yes-goody bags. It was a big day for my big girl. My parents came and sat on the stands watching and cheering. Her brother changed his work schedule and took a Saturday shift to replace the shift he was supposed to work today so that, he too, could be in the stands.
While my big girl played my little girl took to the empty field behind us. Unbeknownst to her she too had an audience. I watched as she played her own game-alone. In her mis-matches long socks (like her sisters) she stood on the pitchers mound and wound up-just like her sisters friends do). She pitched an imaginary ball. Then, quickly, she darted to the batters box where she-just like her sister- took a batters stance. She hit the imaginary ball that she has just pitched to herself. It must have been a homerun because as fast as her little legs would carry her she rounded first, second, home and then (unlike her sister) slid into home. She then clapped for herself and ran into the dugout singing a softball cheer-just like her sister does.
Later she came to “visit” us in the stands. Her face was dirty. Her white shirt was covered in red dust as were her little red shorts. One leg was still covered in a purple softball sock. The other in a blue argyle dress sock. Her little hand left a dirt handprint on her grandpas shoulder when she used him as a brave to climb up to the top of the bleachers. Her little face was ruddy and sweaty but she was smiling proudly. Perhaps because of her homerun?
My dad reminded my girl that she couldn’t “date” until he interviewed the boy. He’s always told his granddaughters this and they always smile. The smile was a might more nervous as I called out for her to introduce her potential guy to her grandpa. My dad didn’t interview him but he did talk to him. He told my girl that she secret to success is a short memory…she had struck out at her first at bat tonight. He wanted her to remember that she had to forget that as soon as it happened so she could focus on the next play-the next at bat. As she sat in my bed later tonight her eyes sparkled as she replayed her grandpas words. Her soon-to-be-beau was a football player and agreed with the wisdom. He thought it was cool that her grandpa gave her such good advice and talked to him. She was beaming.
I guess the moral of my night is that they are watching. These children of mine. They are watching and learning from everything they see and from everything they see the adults in their lives do.
My daughter will remember I made it tonight. She will know I shared the importance of her night with goody bags. She’ll remember her grandparents in the stands. She knew she was loved tonight.
My baby girl mimicked every softball move her sisters team made. She knows every cheer, every action and every nuance of her big sister. She’s learning from what she sees. She is listening to the life lessons being offered. After all it was her grandpa that told her to protect her wheelhouse that led to her homerun in her first game.
My son sees my dad protect his girls and he mimics that with the bat routine. He has introduced himself to the boy. He’s made his presence known.
They don’t mimic all the lessons I am trying to teach. They don’t pick up after themselves or go above and beyond in the chore department but they are learning. My son woke himself up at 4:30am (he didn’t learn that from me) to go to swim practice because he’s got to work the rest of the week. He’s displaying an incredible work ethic that has suprised me. Bit maybe it shouldn’t. My work ethic is something I am proud of. Maybe he watched and learned that from me?
Tonight I realized that a large part of my job as a parent is letting them see me do the right thing. I know to lead by example—it’s one of the things I learned from my parents–but tonight I realized just how much the little day-to-day observations offer them the biggest life lessons.