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Competing Priorities
October 17th, 2011

Last week GAP and three buddies from work went to one of the baseball League Championship Series playoff games.  Due to company connections these guys usually watch baseball games from a box or similar prime locations.  Playoff tickets, however, are a bit harder to come by so last week they were in the upper deck – a.k.a. Family-ville.

GAP was the only one of the four who is married or has kids, so for most of the group their setting gave them a slight fish-out-of-water feeling.  Sitting in front of GAP and his bachelor cronies was a family with a baby and a five-year-old.  Sitting behind them were a man and his eight- or nine-year-old son.  It was this duo that most caught his attention.

The game started at 7:00.  Like most evening baseball games, it likely wasn’t going to end until close to 10:00.  It was a school night.  But when your team is in the playoffs, well, that’s serious business.  What’s a pint-sized fan to do?  And what are his parents to do in such a battle of competing priorities?  Which one wins?

Answer: Both.

That night this boy and his dad avidly cheered on the home team throughout the game.  But in between innings?  In that momentary lull that takes place 17 times in any baseball game as the teams switch from offense to defense and back again?  They pulled out the school books and the boy worked on his homework.

I smiled as GAP told me about this.  I thought about the eagerness of a little boy excited to attend a playoff game.  I thought about the conversation he probably had with his parents wherein he was made to understand that this was a privilege, and that it did not supersede his academic responsibilities.  His dad would have told him how it was going to be hard to focus on his schoolwork with the excitement of the game, but that they would get through it together.  And I thought about someday having a similar conversation with GAP and my own boys.

Sometimes life deals us tough choices.  Sometimes we have to pick between Door #1 and Door #2 and we don’t have the option of a hybrid selection.  But sometimes we can find a way to finagle ourselves into the middle ground.  Such opportunities are hard to overlook.  It made me happy knowing that this boy’s parents didn’t let him blow off his school work, but also understood the how exciting a playoff game opportunity was.

Sometimes we get to split the middle.  Sometimes we get to honor competing priorities.  And if it’s the middle of baseball postseaston  sometimes a night of homework becomes a lifelong memory.

4 Responses to “Competing Priorities”

  1. Lindsey Says:

    I’m charmed by this choice, too, by the way this family navigated both really, truly important things that boy had to do. Lovely image. xox

  2. BigLittleWolf Says:

    It’s so tough for adults to choose among competing priorities for ourselves and I think even tougher for our children. We have the “shoulds” to do with school and accomplishment (“doing”), and the experiences that enrich them of “being.”

    Balance. It serves us well to “strike” it if at all possible.

    Lovely post.

  3. Holly Says:

    This makes me teary, probably because I’m so missing my dad who I’ve watched almost every playoff game with my entire life. I think it’s just the sweetest thing. Plus, the kid will remember the game much longer than he’ll remember the math lesson he had to do during the extra innings. :)

  4. Lindsey Says:

    I am glad to see I am not the only one who found myself with a tear in my eye! While it may not be for the same reason, baseball was not a sport often watched in my house, I still find the story very touching.

    When I see or hear stories of parents doing what is in my opinion the right thing, it makes me smile. Do you want your kid have experiences that don’t come around very often? Of course! Do you want it to be at the expense of something that, again in my opinion, should be more important like school? Absolutely not!

    A definite memory maker and a dad that I’d like to give a hug to!