Saturday, February 11, 2012

A Proud Parent

I do my fair share of bragging about my kids. Over the past year there have been numerous entries testifying to their many triumphs. This is, after all, my blog and I can write whatever I wish. I have, however, tried to not pile it on too thick. They both have significant flaws, most of which clearly inherited from their distant relatives. Parents who lavishly praise the most benign accomplishments of their children as if they had just discovered cold fusion have always irritated me. I actually saw a bumper sticker the other day that proudly proclaimed, “ My Kid Got A Hole-in-One At Putt-Putt Golf! “ Really? By all means, let’s immortalize dumb, blind, luck on the back of our automobiles. What’s next?...”Proud Parent of a Potty-Trained Toddler”. Nevertheless, it’s time for another tribute to the development of my children into adults, no small feat when everywhere I look I see twenty-somethings living out their interminable adolescence.

Kaitlin is in grad school at Wake Forest. She is surrounded by students and faculty who daily mock not only religion, but the religious. It would seem that the famously tolerant Ivory Tower set can’t quite bring themselves to tolerate the Christian faith that created the very institution that grants them tenured protection and the freedom to openly ridicule their benefactors. In the midst of this hostility, my daughter is quietly gaining a reputation as the rarest of scholars, one who has the ability to communicate complex ideas in a clear and understandable way. She has made several oral presentations in her time at Wake and each of them have been praised by fellow students as well as professors. Many of these students and professors know that she is a believing Christian and therefore treat her with bemused fascination, much as how an anthropologist might observe a newly discovered race in New Guinea. But through it all, she has gained the respect of her fellow students who see something special in her intelligence and grace. They see what her parents have always seen, a powerfully inquisitive mind combined with a tender heart that abounds with sensitivity to the needs of others over her own. She has overcome initial doubts about her intellectual fitness for such a program, and now is excelling and winning admirers along the way, fulfilling the charge of the Apostle Paul to ..” become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe.”

Patrick graduated from college two months ago. Instead of coming home, getting a job and saving some money for grad school to come in 9 months time,(my advice), he asked if he could stay in Nashville. I was skeptical. It seemed a foolish waste of time and money. I warned him that my financial support of his college career ended with receipt of his diploma. My hopes for him finding dependable gainful employment were not high. But he informed me the other day that he in fact had gotten a job as a waiter in a high end burger joint/ coffee bar and bakery. “ Huh?”, I said. To my amazement, he is learning the waiter thing on the fly and doing quite well with tips, to the point that he established a savings account for himself. The kid is working a lot of hours and paying his own way in the world. In the meantime he is also thriving in the city that he loves, surrounded by tons of friends and creative people that make him a better musician. As I write this he is stuffed in a car with a bunch of friends driving to Atlanta where the a cappella group that he founded three years ago , the Belmont Beltones, hopes to win a regional competition. Even though he isn’t in the group any longer, there he will be, cheering them on like a proud parent. I know many of the kids in that group, and if one can be judged by the company one keeps, then Patrick has become a wonderful young man. He’s where he wants to be, working on his music, and busting his hump to pay the bills by doing honest work day and night. Awesome.

Too bad I can’t fit any of this on a bumper sticker.