I wanted this weekend to be a time for our kids to feel special.
Posted in , Mar 27, 2012
“You kids get to decide what we’ll do this weekend,” my wife, Tina, told our three children at dinner one Friday evening.
“Can we play mini golf tonight?” our oldest, Rose, asked.
“I want to ride a train,” five-year-old Matthew piped up.
“What about you?” I asked Lauren, our eight-year-old.
“I don’t know,” she said.
“We’ll just have to surprise you then,” I said.
Tina and I worked hard to make sure all our kids felt equally included in family activities, but I knew Lauren often felt overlooked as the middle child. And she was by far the most sensitive of our brood. She loved baseball and had never been to a game with the Minor League team the Chattanooga Lookouts, so I figured I’d get us tickets to the Saturday afternoon game. I hoped it would make her feel special.
At the mini golf course, we all had a great time. Until everyone got a hole in one—except for Lauren. “It’s just not fair!” she said when we were leaving.
The next morning we had fun riding the train at the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum in Chattanooga. All the while, I made sure to drop hints to Lauren about her surprise. “Are we going to a Lookouts game?” she finally guessed. “I hope I get a foul ball!”
We arrived at the stadium and took our seats behind home plate. Lauren was absolutely beaming.
Then, during one of the promotions between innings, Matthew was randomly selected to win a gift certificate. Lauren’s smile faded. “Why do Rose and Matthew get everything?” she pouted.
Lord, please help me show Lauren how special she is, I prayed.
The next inning started. Crack! I looked up. A foul ball was heading straight for us! I reached out. The ball hit my hands. But it glanced off and bounced down the steps. Another fan held it up triumphantly.
I looked at Lauren. “Can I have the baseball?” she asked.
“I’m sorry, sweetheart. I dropped it.”
Lauren dissolved into tears. There was no consoling her. “I think we should go,” Tina said at the end of the sixth inning.
We left the stadium and descended the huge hill toward the parking lot. Lauren would get over her disappointment, I knew. But my heart ached to see her so upset.
“Look up,” I heard a voice whisper.
I glanced up the hill at the stadium, wondering where the voice had come from. As I did, a small, white object sailed over the top of the grandstand. It dropped from the sky, rolled all the way down the hill and stopped at my feet.
“Daddy, is that…” Lauren began.
“A baseball,” I confirmed, picking it up. “For you.”