My favorite sportstalk radio host is Dan Patrick. On the occasional chance that I catch a part of his program, I chuckle when callers start their contribution with their height and weight – 6’3, 301 lbs (ding!) in my case. Sometimes measureables define us.
My son Micah is 41 inches and 40 lbs. He is 3 years and 2 mo. For context, here’s where he falls on the height weight chart:
Per the graph, he is “off the charts” in height and weight. If you draw a line between his current height and weight – he’s the height of an average 5YO boy and the weight of a 4YO. But he’s 3.
As many of you know, I like golf. In a previous chapter of life, my ability to hit a golf ball defined a large part of my identity.
I am now the parent of a golf nut. Outside of the first time I took him to the driving range, I have not pushed golf onto Micah. We went to the range a couple times last year, including this picture of him hitting after telling me how far he was going to hit it (there’s a theme here):
This year, we have gotten into the habit of going to “the golf course with the airplanes”. Translated from 3YO verbage – that means the driving range next to the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base flight line on Area A. We hit golf balls, we watch C-17’s do touch and go’s, and occasionally catch a fighter do this:
Initially, I thought he liked going moreso because of the airplanes. But I was wrong, I had a golf nut on my hands. Perhaps only a phase. We’ll see though.
On Father’s Day, Jaymie encouraged me to take him to the course. I told Micah we were going to play “real golf”. He’s 3. He didn’t know what that meant really and just presumed we were doing our usual range work. Decked out in matching Cubs hats, we headed out for the course. A selfie on 15th hole:
We went to Twin Base Golf Club. It is the lesser of the two Wright-Patt golf courses and I suspected it would not be busy. I was right.
He was thrown off once we turned from OH-444 to go to Twin Base rather than our usual entrance through the security checkpoint on Area A past the usual things he mentions from past trips (“hey Dad, there’s that windowless building!, “hey Dad, there’s the airplane decoration”). We got out of the car, I got my shoes on and we walked into the shop. After signing a waiver that I wouldn’t sue the government if Micah died by golf ball, we went to the first tee. The ride from the clubhouse to the first tee blew his mind. The pencil. A steering wheel. Straps for clubs.
I wanted to get away from the clubhouse before letting him loose. So Micah just got a feel for the game on the short par 4 first hole. He was fascinated by the tee markers, the fairway, and the green. He held the pin for me. I teed off the second hole and let him hit from the fairway where I had my approach shot. His first swing on a real golf course – a 31 yard drive. I stepped it off. He made contact on the first swing. A proud Dad beamed.
We rode around the golf course as the sun set. We played 13 holes in the twilight. He had the time of his life. We came home and an excited 3YO boy who’s brain works faster than he can talk shared with his Mom about this whole new world. He asked to go back the next day, and the next, and the day after that too. Most days he asks.
We’ve gone to the range a few times since then and hit the “real” course a couple more times, including tonight.
He wants to be like me. He is an imitator. If I mow, he mows:
With golf, here’s my swing:
Here’s his swing (he does whiff on occasion):
Same wide open stance, same rapid backswing. Strong right hand grips. Short follow through. Big cuts.
The similarities don’t stop there. He walks like me. Today, he started crouching down before he putt (like I do when I read the slope of the green). He must think I’m looking at my golf ball as he was crouching down getting his face as close as he could to the Nike logo on his golf ball. We have some things to work on. I have a habit of sweeping the grass with my club as I walk off the green. Micah started sweeping the grass with his clubs as he walked off the green. I did not say a word, we did not talk about either of these items. He watched me do them and then he began to do them. He didn’t ask why, he just did them.
He’s also learning some not good things. “Dad, why are you mad at your golf ball again?” after hearing me berate myself for a poor shot last time we played.
I don’t claim that this experience is unique to me. I think (and hope) all Dad’s have experienced this sweet and sobering moment. There’s a country song written about this idea (“I’ve been watching you…”. Personally, I’m challenged. If he’s already learned to swing like me, walk like me, read greens, or sweep the grass – what else is he learning from me by watching? Am I teaching him well? Or the right things? What is he picking up from my attitude, my mannerisms, my 33 (now 34) YO temper tantrums? Is he learning how to love God, love his future wife (by watching me love mine), work hard, handle the ups and downs of life with grace, and care for people? I hope so. I know that more times than not I am not the example I need to be.
Some of you have heard us complain about him. He didn’t sleep through the night until what seems like a few months ago. He has a STRONG will. He can’t be talked off the ledge.
But only a few have heard from us is that the kid has a heart of gold, a willing and humble spirit, a true *passion* for helping. If me or Jaymie are “working”, Micah’s helping – mow, vacuum, sweep, pick up, or plant. He’s humble and sweet. He’s determined. He’s fun loving and laughs a lot.
But as I am called to be an imitator, Micah is imitating me. His measurables are exceptional. But his heart, his head, and his soul need something to emulate to help him grow into who he can become. Measurables only go so far. I need to be a better imitator. For Micah’s sake. For Avery’s sake. For Beckett’s sake. For Jaymie’s sake. And for my sake.
If you’ve read this, please say a little prayer for this little guy. We named our little baby boy Micah because Jaymie and I share a favorite verse, Micah 6:8 (NIV):
“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly[a] with your God.“
Pray that for Micah. Please pray that for me.