It’s the last inning of your Little League baseball game with two outs and your team needs a hit to win. You’re next to bat but before you step to the plate, the coach tells you he’s subbing you out for Adam, the team star, so he can win the game.
Your dad runs over from the sidelines and tells the coach it isn’t right. Tells him to give you a chance and let you bat. He raises his voice and causes a scene. You feel embarrassed.
It’s only 20 years later when you have a son of your own that you understand that your father just wanted to see you try. He didn’t want some coach telling his son he wasn’t good enough. He just wanted you to have a shot at winning the game because you deserved it as much as anyone, even if he knew you didn’t want that responsibility and you were afraid of losing. He didn’t care because he knew what you didn’t: that if you don’t try, you don’t succeed. If you don’t risk, you don’t gain. Your dad knew that it’s okay to fail and to hell with the team too. Because next time you might win and that’s the way it goes.
You want to tell him you get it. To thank him for giving you the greatest gift a parent can give a child: the permission to fail. You’re ashamed of the nine-year-old boy who put down the bat and allowed Adam to win the game. You remember looking at your dad’s face as the team victoriously carried Adam on their shoulders. Your dad was quiet on the way home. You still wonder who he was more disappointed in that day: you or himself.