One of the great things about being young is the ability to dream. Dream about your future, dream about the next week, next month, next year in your life, not having a single clue whether any of those dreams will ever come true. Dreaming of being a fireman, a policeman, an astronaut, a teacher, or even a professional athlete. In the past week, I have crossed the paths of two young men, one 17 and one 18, whose dreams are definitely on different paths, one whose dreams are temporarily on hold while the other just keeps dreaming every day and smiling the whole time.
Someone told me awhile back that the toughest job on earth is being a parent. I cannot agree more. The pressures of getting stories done here at the paper, beating a deadline, or making it to a ball game in time pale in comparison to the pressure of being Dad. If I had a dollar for every night that I have sat up with knots in my stomach worried about the whereabouts and safety of my kids, someone else would be writing this column while I lounged on some remote beach. When anyone hurts our children, they have hurt their parents and that’s time to draw the line.
What does that have to do with a kid’s dreams? Well, as parents we encourage our kids to dream big, tell them they can be anything they want to be, do anything they want to do. The first young man that I mentioned above has dreams just like any other high school boy. Of course, a lot of those dreams center around the fair opposite sex, but you can’t say that you weren’t dreaming the same when you were 17. Since he was four years old, another dream took him to the center of a baseball diamond, a place where he could always be happy, always smile, and always feel comfortable. Many times his Dad was in the dugout, making it a family dream with memories that no one can ever take away.
Recently, that baseball dream took a bit of a U-turn, and though no fault of the young man, life was quickly different for him. With the baseball dream on hold, perhaps now he needs to dream of other things. Does he have any clue what his future holds? Do any of us? I know the young man’s parents only hope for him to be a happy, well-adjusted college student very soon when the baseball dreams are a thing of the past. It certainly would be nice if parents could plot out their children’s futures just the way they wanted it to go, but it doesn’t quite work that way. It’s cutting the cord for the second time and this time letting them go on their own and learn from their mistakes without the lectures. It’s the most difficult thing a parent has to do but in the end it can turn out to be the most rewarding.
The second young man that I crossed paths with has a different set of dreams, ones that changed for him the day he was born and it was understood that he would never be able to speak or hear.Don’t let that discourage you because it sure doesn’t him. The world would be a much better place if you could take this young man’s exuberance for life and transplant it into some adults. The smiles and the laughter are contagious.
Did this young man have dreams that took him to the middle of a baseball diamond also? He certainly did and he took that dream as far as he could before the issue of his own safety got in the way, but when he was on that diamond, he had enough enthusiasm for everyone. Now he’s 18 years old and it hurts him to know that he can’t be part of that group any more, but it still doesn’t diminish his love of life.
When you are in this young man’s shoes, the little things mean so much. You should have seen him last Sunday afternoon as he bounced up the driveway when he saw our first young man’s new car pull in the driveway. Perhaps you need to take a look at his face when he knows that he is about to dig into a big slice of chocolate cake or when he can show off the latest fashions, especially his UK attire. Take a look at his excitement when his arms start in constant motion and he wants your attention just to tell someone how happy he is to have the whole family around him. Now those are real dreams, dreams that you and I can never understand but ones that will always make us smile along with him.
I have never learned sign language so my main forms of communication with this young man are fist bumps and a “thumbs up.” Sometimes silent communication is the best. Who needs a bunch of words anyway? Words are good for these pages, but when it comes to this young man, they are certainly not necessary. Walk up to him, put your arm around him, give him a fist bump and a “thumbs up” and see how much better you feel. If you don’t, then your own life needs a good bit of re-evaluation.
So Jordan and Kenton, keep those heads held high and don’t let anyone every crush your dreams. Keep smiling, keep laughing, and keep attacking life with all the gusto and enthusiasm that you can muster. Never let anyone or anything stand in your way as you dream big and live even bigger. And one more thing, if ever the either of you need a fist bump or a “thumbs up”, just come see me.
Mark Carpenter can be reached at 937-544-2391 or on Twitter @adamscosports.