Growing up, my Dad came to all my baseball and soccer practices, games, and Cub Scout meetings. It was downright annoying. He even coached some of my teams and cheered for me. Loudly. Sometimes he even showed up wearing black dress socks, shorts, and sneakers—the dreaded middle-aged Dad look. My Mom came too; but dressed appropriately. She was much quieter, but it was embarrassing nonetheless. Most of the other parents only showed up occasionally.
When I became a teenager, I thanked God there were fewer events for them to attend. At home, my Mom helped me, and my brother and sisters, with homework. However, she was attending graduate school, teaching full-time and only had a limited amount of time to help me. When she did offer to help, it was always during the time in which I was mastering my favorite video game, playing football, or watching TV—yet another annoyance. How dare she interrupt my busy schedule?
A few years later, I went away to college and called home no more than once a week. And that phone call was the old cliché, “Mom, Dad, please send money (for beer).” They always did. Sometimes they sent it overnight (as long as I left out the beer part).
When my car broke down on the George Washington Bridge in the middle of the night, my Dad came and picked me up. No questions asked. Maybe there was some cursing, but still no questions.
When I got married and ran into financial trouble, my parents said my wife and I could live there for free. No thanks. I didn’t want to live with my parents—we wanted our own space. My Mom even lent me her car for a year—which was not annoying.
Now, I have two kids of my own and I get, and appreciate, why my parents did all those things. Additionally, we have tons of memories to share. (Many are simply of me striking out to end the game, but they’re memories nonetheless).
I believe good parenting is about always being there for your kids. I hope one day I can be as annoying to my kids—minus the black dress socks, shorts, and sneakers—as my parents were to me.
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