Hat Money

Coffee Talk

Renae Brumbaugh Green

I’ve decided that when it comes to parenting, if you don’t feel like a real heel at least half the time, you’re probably not doing it right.

I’m talking about me, not you.

Last weekend, the boy child went to his friend’s house. When I dropped him off, he was wearing his baseball cap. As in, the one that goes with his baseball uniform. As in, the one that, if he’s not wearing it, he can’t play in the game.

When he came home from his friend’s house, he wasn’t wearing his cap.

We called his friend, and he and his mom looked for the cap. Assured us, in fact, that they’d turned the house inside out, looking for the cap. The boy child and I even went over the next day and looked some more for it. Still no cap.

There are a few of possibilities for where that cap is:

1.It flew off his head when they were skateboarding.

2.His friend’s dog buried it with all his bones.

3.Gremlins ate it.

Wherever the cap is, we know where it’s not. On my son’s head.

That was last Saturday. He had two baseball games on Monday. The cost for a replacement cap is $25.00. And despite the fact that the boy child gets a decent allowance each week, he didn’t have $25.00 to buy a new cap. Because Hershey bars and Coca-Colas and Twizzlers are way more important than any kind of savings, when you’re fifteen.

The conversation went something like this:

Him: Coach won’t let me play without a cap.

Me: That’s too bad.

Him: (Long, soulful look.) Can you front me the money, and I’ll pay you back?

Me: (In my head. In my heart, really.) Yes, baby. I want to see you play. You look so handsome in your uniform and I like yelling your name when you’re up to bat.

Me: (Out loud.) No. Sorry. Your cap is your responsibility. I paid for the first one. You’ll have to sit out. We’ll come up with a way you can earn the money to buy a replacement.

I felt like such a good mother.

I felt like such a horrible mother.

Do they give a trophy for the Most Conflicted Parent Award? I really wanted him to play.

Monday, he sat in the dugout for the longest double header in the history of high school baseball. Which means I sat in the bleachers, with no one to cheer for. It was cold, too. After a while, I went and sat in the car. (Does that make me a terrible mother?)

While I was in the car, I called a couple of his lawn-mowing clients. He’s had a few months off, but hey. With the schizophrenic weather, I figured they might have some weeds or something. Turns out, they did. Turns out, they were planning to call him this week anyway.

Tuesday afternoon, he mowed two yards and pulled a bunch of weeds. Wednesday, he bought a new cap.

Now, I could have given him the twenty-five bucks to pay for the cap and had him pay me back. But I knew the lesson to be learned was in that dugout, during that double-header. If I had made it easy for him, he’d have missed the lesson. And then he’d have had to repeat the lesson, again and again and again. Better to learn it right the first time, don’t you think?

I’ve sat in the dugout for so many games in my life. Not a literal dugout, since I don’t play much baseball. But I’ve missed out on some great things because of my own foolish mistakes. And waiting in the dugout while life passes you by is never fun.

Waiting is never fun.

But the lessons happen during the waiting time. If God gave me everything I wanted, right when I wanted it, I’d never learn the things He wants me to learn. I’d never learn to take responsibility for my own actions. I’d never learn to be careful and patient and wise.

I’m proud of my son, and even better, I think he’s proud of himself. I think he’ll take better care of his hat—and his money—in the future.

Now if I can just figure out how to get the stains out of his baseball pants, we’ll be grand.

“The Lord longs to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him,”

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