Monday, July 30, 2012

Getting to know my boy

On Saturday, Toby took Noah to a soccer game - not just any game, mind you, but Toby's team, Liverpool! They were playing another English club - Tottenham Hot Spurs - in Baltimore, and Toby thought it would be a great chance to spend some quality time with his oldest boy. And it would have been, except...
As they climbed the stairs to their seats, Toby became aware of three things:
  1. It was hot. Really hot. And there was absolutely no shade, anywhere. But much worse...
  2. They were high up. Really high.
  3. Noah was no longer at his side. No, he was about 20 ft behind him, white knuckling the stairs' handrail. It would seem that Noah is afraid of heights.
We didn't realize any of these little facts before the boys set off on their adventure.
Being hot is uncomfortable, but like most people, Gayners can endure a little discomfort if the payoff is worth it. They had their baseball hats on, so their heads were protected, but Toby got red on his knees and neck, and the sweat ring on the Liverpool cap Noah was wearing has made the hat permanently his own.
The big problem was the height. Toby has no particular problem with heights, and it never occurred to any of us that Noah was any different. I'm the one with height issues - the kids (Noah included) look over a banister and I walk away; we step into a glass elevator and I'm looking real hard at those numbers; I even went bungee-jumping in the hope that it would help me get over my fears (it didn't). As it turns out, I am not alone. Almost as soon as they sat down, Noah was asking to leave. Toby said he was hanging onto the chair arms for grim death, and never really properly relaxed enough to enjoy the game. In the end, they left at half time, much to Noah's relief.
I felt so sorry for them. Toby had been so looking forward to sharing something he loves with his boy, and Noah totally hero-worships his daddy and would have followed him anywhere. I can totally understand Noah's fear, since it's so much like my own. Plus, who likes sitting in the baking hot sun, sweating like crazy? And yet, there is so much good to see in the situation. Noah endured the whole first half, doing his best to control himself, when some adults might have been wigging out in similar circumstances. I credit it mostly to his love for his father - Noah's desire to be with Dad and please him enabled him to put up with more than he would normally have done. And Toby's love for his son enabled him to put the financial investment (which was significant) and his own desire to see the match aside and put his boy's pleasure and comfort first.
And now we've learned something new about Noah. It was such a reminder that though we think we know these kids, there are still things to learn about them. They are their own people, with their own idiosyncrasies and foibles, and we need to see them that way and love them that way. And by God's grace, we get to spend the rest of our lives getting to know these amazing people, humbled that we've been allowed the privilege of doing life with them. That should be a helpful reminder the next time one of them covers the bathroom in shampoo...

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