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Monday, January 30, 2012

My Son's Painful Lesson on Life and Charity...

Things were looking good...
He was finally getting the hang of it.

After struggling to pedal his brand new Tony Hawk BMX bike for several laps, during his school’s annual pre-k trike-a-thon to raise money for St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, where it appeared his little legs were not strong enough to keep the wheels going and several times needed to be pushed by teachers when he got stuck, my 4-year-old son was finally pedaling smoothly, as his older sister and her first grade class cheered and chanted his name.

It’s funny, being the youngest and one of the smallest boys in his class, it reminded me of the last scene of the movie, Rudy, where the crowd at Notre Dame Stadium was chanting for the pint-sized hero, “Ru-dy, Ru-dy, Ru-dy.”

Only in this case, the pint-sized hero was my son and the crowd was nothing more then a class of first graders and about two dozen parents.

As he came around the make-shift bicycle course, he kept looking over at his cheering fans and pedaling faster. At this point, he was probably feeling pretty good about himself.

However, as he whizzed by them and came around to the first turn (whizzed being relative since a toddler’s bike with training wheels is not exactly going to shatter any speed record), he appeared to have trouble negotiating the curve and turned the handlebars too sharply.

He ended up falling over his bike and landing on his hands and knees.

Unfortunately, as he hit the pavement, several other classmates were trailing close behind and as he looked up, another girl’s front tire plowed directly into this face.

For me, it was a bit surreal. I stood there frozen for a brief instance, before realizing it was my son who had been run over (and I should go help!).

All hell broke loose. My son started crying hysterically. Other parents and teachers rushed to help and some of the other kids stopped to watch the commotion.

By the time I got there, a teacher was already holding my son, as blood poured out of his lip and, apparently, from above his left eyelid. I also noticed the well defined tire mark on his face; talk about sacrificing for charity!

I grabbed him and started trying to comfort him.

I’ll be honest, in six years of St. Jude’s pre-k trike-a-thons for my two daughters, and son last year; I had never seen a spill like this one.

As another father grabbed my son’s bike, the teacher that had picked up my son originally led me to the nurse’s office.

He was still crying when I sat him on the school nurse’s examination table but finally calmed down, after the nurse cleaned him up.

We noticed that the eyelid blood was apparently from having rubbed it with his hands.

His upper lip was swollen but the cut appeared to be superficial and, after washing his hands, the nurse gave him an icepack, which he promptly placed over his mouth; crisis resolved.  He was good.

When I carried him back out, he noticed the event was over and started crying again, saying that he wanted to keep riding his bike; so much for long lasting effect!   

After telling him he could ride when he got home and taking him to his classroom, where most of the other kids were already sitting at their desks, I gave him a kiss and went to work.

While driving with a blood stain on my shoulder, I couldn't help but think about how much our daily lives are but a microcosm of our relationship with God.

In other words, how many times have I've been in my son's shoes; struggling with a problem, and after working through it, and finally getting into a rhythm and starting to feel confident, out of nowhere, I find myself on the pavement with the tire track of life on my face and God the Father having to pick me back up and console me?

Only, in my son's case, his consolation came wrapped in the arms of his dad, which, as a father, is one of the finest ways of showing God's love to my children.    

While it may have been a painful lesson for him to learn, about working through a challenge, getting overconfident, losing focus, and falling flat on his face (OK, maybe I'm being optimistic about his takeaway!), at least, he ended up being carried off the field like Rudy…

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