Real heroes reducing stress in the journey

Mark DeLap
Posted 5/17/23

A weekly editorial by Mark DeLap

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Real heroes reducing stress in the journey


Do you have a stress-filled life especially in the midst of a heavy school and extracurricular life with your children?

Perhaps it’s a 9-to-5 office, or a farmer who fights the climate and the markets or perhaps a trucker that is on the road way too much in unforgiving traffic and closed rest areas.

This is a shoutout to parents. Parents who go through the stress of a full day and then have their children’s hefty sports or dance or 4-H schedule to attend to after hours as the frosting on their cake.

And although the frosting is better in that it is tastier and it is so much sweeter, too much of a good thing can be just, too much of a good thing.

It seems like kids today with all the out of school sports have augmented the busy nature of our kids extra-curricular lives. In a smaller town, that is more prevalent due to the fact that bodies are in dire need to fill team rosters.

Sitting in the stands once or twice a week, or more, depending upon the schedule of activities really breaks up an evening. After a full day when it would just be nice to head home and veg on the couch binging your favorite programs or perhaps lay by the pool in the heat that hangs around until after dark.

At events there are many people to contend with, from the grandma who shows all of her vacation pictures in the stands to the lonely neighbor who doesn’t go to watch a game or an event but is there so you miss your son or daughter hit the only triple they will ever record in their storied career.

And then there are the competitive parents who must think that the outcome of these games are being reported to a higher authority and somehow manage to micromanage the coaches, the opponents and the referees when things are not going according to them living perfectly vicarious through their children.

OK, so it may not be that bad, but standing in line for a steamed hot dog when you had a steak planned on the grill in the privacy of your own backyard just makes the whole dining experience a bit hollow. Not to say that the kids don’t create some pretty incredible game-time meals such as the walking tacos at last week’s softball game under the lights and under blankets.

I remember last year as Little Leagues and summer camps were winding down and the fair was about to heat up, a great stress reducer was to go to activities where the kids are not only enjoying their summer but teaching all the rest of us how to enjoy it too.

Perhaps some tips can be gained from the t-ball kids who dare to take an extra swing at life. While the game is going on, they think nothing of sitting in the infield to look at the rocks that are mixed in the sand or get up to chase a butterfly down the left-field foul line. There is a right fielder who is wearing his glove like a hat and doing a Katy Perry floss halfway through the inning. Over at third base, a little girl is looking at clouds and singing. The ball screaming past her at 1 mile per hour was hardly a distraction to her concept of the game.

The catcher, a little girl in full catcher’s attire watches the ball come bouncing in from the pitcher, and she never moves as the ball rolls past her in slow motion. She just lets it go as if she were frozen in time. She knew there was a parent behind her shagging balls.

Then there were the 4-H kids who were spraying the back mane of a cow and creating a crazy hair-do on their older brother asleep in the hammock. Or the little girl taking her pig for a walk around the midway. And you could scarcely miss the child reading a book in the barn, head propped up on the back of her cow, lounging in the cowhide.

These are all student teachers – trying to get us to remember what it was like as a child and why we often hear ourselves saying, “I wish I were a kid again.”

Adults have read that great book about baseball, “when it was a game.” But if you watch the kids intently, they are teaching all of us how to live in the game without stress. They are leading by example, how to experience joy in the journey of childhood. And don’t look now, but summer is upon us again.

Hats off to the true kids of summer who will one day forget why they loved it so much as they are fully immersed in life’s rules, boundaries and political correctness. There is no rule that says you can’t go back. Next time your son runs after that butterfly down the right field line – run after him. And bring him the net.