The Joy of Being Outdone

Maybe it’s because I always feel old around my birthday, but every once and a while, I’m awestruck when young people do amazing things. If you’re a parent, I’m sure you know what I mean, but you don’t have to be a parent to experience it.

I think what really gets my goat is when someone younger does something so much better than I could do it myself. It’s humbling, but I’m old enough now to appreciate other people. Let me tell you a story.

Last year, our oldest daughter Amanda was on the softball team. It was her second or third year playing, and she’d really begun to do well. In fact, she ended up playing first base. If you’ve ever watched youth softball, you understand the significance of first base. See, that’s the only base at which plays ever happen. Little girls generally can’t throw fast enough or accurate enough to get runners out at 2nd and 3rd, so 1st and home are the only bases that get action. It’s a big deal to be on first.

I realized part way through the season that not only could Amanda play first base, but she could play first base well. In fact, she made the All-Star team. It was a moment when my then 9 year old daughter completely surpassed my ability. It was awesome. I never even MADE the team when I was younger, and here my little girl was excelling. I experienced a joy that I’d never had before. Finally, I understood those fathers standing up in stand shouting, “That’s my kid!!!”

This evening, my brother in law did the same thing to me. No, he didn’t play first base, but he made me that sorta proud I got when Amanda made the All-Star team. Chris is in a dinner theater group, and this evening I saw their first performance of the season. It was awesome. The group probably has a dozen or so teens and young adults. Like you would expect, there are some mediocre performers, and a couple that really shine. Christopher shined. Brightly.

It was a little funny after the show, because we started chatting about microphone levels, etc. I awkwardly told him he did a good job, but had to admit I didn’t want to get all sappy. I think he shrugged the compliment off humbly, and went on his way.

Well Chris, here’s the sap. I’ve known you as long as I can remember (literally!), and I’ve never been so impressed and proud of you. I’ve seen you take first chair in band as a freshman, I’ve seen you play sports better than I could ever imagine, and I’ve seen you grow as an individual. Tonight, however, you moved me, man. You have a great voice, but what’s even better is that you really tell a story when you sing. I appreciated the entire performance. Thank you for singing from your heart.

All right, that’s enough. I need to say something silly and sarcastic now to lighten the mood of this post. So imagine I just made an armpit noise, and move along…

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