Cheryl and I have these friends.They teach physics and engineering,
respectively, at a local university.They are married and in their 40s, much like us … except for one small
detail:our kids are in college, and their kids are in preschool.
Our friends are wise and loving parents … the kind of people
who should be on the cover of Parenting Magazine every single month.They are also, understandably, a little bit
Cheryl and I will sometimes talk about how we decided to
have children “early.”It happened way
back in the 1990s, and we really hadn’t offered up many prayers or sought much
advice.We just went to the movies one
night and had this conversation:
MIKE:Hey, would you like to start trying for a
Wait a minute … let me rephrase that.
CHERYL (with excitement pulsing
from every fiber of her being):Sure!!!!!!!
And so we began trying, in our barely-mid-20s, and the next
thing you know … there was Kate.And a
couple of years later, we tried some more … and there was Cal.
And Cheryl and I had this boundless energy to wake-up in the
middle of the night and to battle illnesses and to play a dozen games of
WIFFLE® ball in a single day.But, safe
to say, we lacked some wisdom along the way.
And so we glance over at our friends and think … we wish
we’d been more patient as parents.More
kind.More laid back.Just like you.
And our friends look back at us—smiling their tired
smiles—and wish that they had a little bit of that juice we all had 20 years
My neighbor Roy built a treehouse, so we had a treehouse
club.One day, the club had a
competition to see who could hammer a nail into a block of wood with the least
number of strokes.I think I was pretty
lousy at it … but I kept on swinging, because I wanted to be in the club.
In Pee Wee football, my friend Lance and I came up with the
“Good Hands” Club.Lance was a wide
receiver, and I was a tight end.Our
team mainly ran the ball, though, so the Good Hands Club didn’t see much
action.Except for blocking.We got really good at blocking.
Lance and I were optimists, though.We knew it was just a matter of time before
we got our hands on the ball, so we came up with a “good hands” play.It went something like this … if Lance ever
caught a pass, he would turn and lateral the ball to me.If I ever caught a pass, I would turn and
lateral the ball to him.
Well, I did finally catch a pass in a game, right at the end
of the first half.I took a couple of
steps and then lateraled/fumbled the ball back toward Lance.
At halftime, our coach looked over at me and said, “Nice job
of trying to keep the ball alive out there after the clock had expired.”I nodded my head, as if that had been my plan
all along.But it wasn’t my plan.I was simply executing the Good Hands Club
Which brings me to my favorite club … maybe the best club in
the history of clubs.
One fall in elementary school, some friends and I formed the
B.A.D. Club.(Yes, the “A” stood for
Allen. You may guess at the other initials, if you wish.)
We spent most of our afternoons running around the Harding
Music Building where D’s dad worked.We
yelled up and down the hallways, and associate professors eyed us suspiciously
as we sped by their offices.We slid down
the stairs on flattened cardboard boxes (which sounds like a lot more fun than
it actually was).And eventually, we’d always
end up in the recording studio, which was a big as a basketball court.A stage stood at the far end of it, and at
the entrance these words were etched into the wall:
Little by little
time goes by
short if you sing
long if you sigh.
(I quoted this to my wife recently.She was unimpressed.)
One cool feature of the stage … it had doors at one end that
allowed access to the underneath.You
could flip a light switch to illuminate the underworld, or you could just crawl
around in the darkness – if you dared.The lower-stage lands were filled with boxes, a thin layer of dust, and even
a spider or two.
Around Christmastime, the B.A.D. Club began planning our
first, and only, holiday party.(By this
time, the club had grown to include a few people whose last names did not start
with “B” or “A” or “D”.)Before the big
day arrived, we decorated the under-stage with our very own Christmas tree, and
then drew names for a surprise gift exchange.
I was completely stoked.
On the afternoon of the party, we handed out Christmas
presents by the light of our 2 ½ foot plastic tree.The flat, loosely-wrapped package given to me
contained a BiC pen.Not the greatest
gift I’ve ever received, but a gold-letter day nonetheless.Why?Because,
I was at a Christmas party … under a stage … with good friends.What could be better than that?
These days, Cheryl and I still believe in the power of
clubs.We belong to a group that meets
at Matt and Jill’s place on Tuesday nights.We talk about shallow things.We
talk about deep things.We’ve been known
to crack open a Bible.We’ve even had a
few parties along the way.
Yes, even in these middle ages, we still need clubs to help
us on the journey.