When I venture to the playground with my 4 kids I have to have my head on a constant swivel. The youngest isn’t mobile yet but the other 3 run around like lunatics. It seems they have an unspoken rule that they will be the furthest away from each other as possible at all times. This makes it extra challenging to keep an eye on them and I’m always thankful when I have an extra set of eyes helping me watch.
This one particular Saturday my brother-in-law volunteered to go with me and the kids to check out a park nearby that we had never been to. As per usual, the 3 kids each proceeded to go do something far away from the others. At least I had my brother-in-law to help out. This playground was designed for kids ages 5-12 so I was grateful to have the help in watching the kids as there were some elements where they could have gotten hurt.
One such element was a giant boulder/wall that doubled as a bridge between two other platforms. It was a unique setup that I’ve never seen before. It was cool but it also provided an excellent opportunity for someone to fall off a 4 foot high rock. I had been watching my 5 year old go back and forth across it several times and began to get comfortable with him being up there. That’s when out of the corner of my eye I saw him hop from one side to the other on one foot.
Not wanting him to take that risk again I walked over to him and asked him what that one footed hop was all about. He looked at me, got real serious for a moment, leaned in and very matter-of-factly told me:
“What I’m trying to do is make myself look like a big kid so people don’t think I’m 5, so they think I’m 6, or maybe even 7.”
Oh to be a kid again. I just smiled and held his hand and calmly replied:
“Well, what I’m trying to do is look like a good Dad and keep you from breaking your arm. So could you please not do that again?”
It’s not often I get to have a day without any kids. But a little while ago I was able to do just that and got to take advantage of the time to play some golf with an old friend. It was a beautiful day and my buddy had 2 of his friends come and join us. The four of us were having a great time on the golf course. Somewhere around the 6th hole one of my buddy’s friends hurried up to the tee box and got ready to hit his first shot while the rest of us were getting our drivers out of our golf bags and heading toward him.
As we are walking toward him he let rip with his tee shot. It was a beautifully struck shoot. The golf ball started out low and you could instantly tell it was going to continue to rise. It was the type of shot I love to hit. Since it starts low and gradually rises it loses little to no distance doing a high arcing loop and when it hits the ground it gets a great roll. It should have been a shot anyone would have been proud to hit. There was just one problem…
He hit the ball about 15 degrees to the left. Now that doesn’t seem like a lot and maybe on another hole it wouldn’t have been such a big deal, but on this particular hole, about 20 yards away, there just so happened to be a dead palm tree 15 degrees to the left. His screaming line drive shot hit the tree and made the exact “thud” you would expect to hear from a golf ball hitting a dead, slightly rotten palm tree. What happened next is what made this particular shot one I’ll never forget.
Because the tree was rotten, the golf ball didn’t bounce off very fast. The ball just sort of slowly lobbed itself off the tree right back toward the guy who hit the shot. It was such a slow motion bounce-back that the guy could have easily just stepped to the right, stepped to the left or he could have even just caught it. He chose option 4. He turned around and tried to outrun it by running directly at the 3 of us walking up toward him.
His eyes were wide with terror, he had thrown his arms up into the air and had commenced screaming like a 6 year old girl. Approximately 3 steps into his poor decision, the ball plopped him in the middle of his back. He let out another scream and hit the ground like he had just been assassinated. Now understand, I’m not one of those guys who finds great humor in others’ injuries. But in this instance I had to take a knee and it was at least a minute before I could regain my breath. Even now I can’t think about that shot without smiling at least a little.