Written June 13. Sat upon for five weeks.
There was a death in our family this week, although no one is grieving except me. I understand, though, because it was part of me that shriveled up and died: my ego.
I fouled up a ceremony honoring the graduating seniors of our high school baseball team. (My son is a sophomore on the team.) I was in charge of writing and announcing the special moment where each senior walks out with his family, providing each player’s reflections on his past and future. Simple enough: I wrote questions, sent them to parents, and then compiled the responses into a single script.
I’ve gotta say, the pre-game ceremony was going well. There was laughter; there were tears. … But there weren’t enough introductions. For whatever reason, I flat-out neglected to transfer the responses of one kid into my script.
I didn’t realize my error until another dad in the press box told me I had skipped a player. I will never forget the expectant look on the faces of the player and his parents—waiting for me to recite his baseball biography.
And I had nothing to say. Oh, I stammered out his name and his parents’ names, and I remembered where he’s going to college, but then I fumbled around, trying to freelance the rest.
I literally don’t remember how it ended.
Any parent with kids in sports knows the type of community that surrounds a team. There are different jobs to be done, and parents have different skills. Ideally, the parent most suited to a job performs it—well.
I erred most obviously in not having the information in front of me at game time. But it was a series of ego errors that led to that disastrous conclusion.
My first mistake was believing I was the parent best suited to handle the announcing. I said earlier I was in charge, but only because I put myself in charge. Look, I can speak into a microphone and introduce players, but so can any number of people. I believed I could do it effortlessly, though. And that was my ego at its miscalculating worst.
I should have made and followed a checklist. I should have asked another parent—my dear wife, for example—to proofread my script. I should have checked and double-checked the script before the ceremony, preferably with one of the other dads up there.
But I didn’t, and I failed.
I failed to provide a player his moment in the Senior Night sun. I short-circuited the spotlight on that boy. And his parents. And his relatives in the stands.
I apologized, believe me. I went to the parents during the game and expressed my deepest regrets. I made a formal apology to the player—in front of the team—after the game. I expressed my remorse to the family by email. And … you know.
Other parents have said, well, mistakes happen. But I didn’t make a simple stumble. I made a deep-seated, complex mistake. I declared myself an expert then methodically proved to be a fool.
That hurts, brothers and sisters. And I don’t know what hurts most—the guilt or the humiliation.
I grieve for that boy and his parents, knowing that I ruined their celebration of four years in a varsity uniform. It’s a grief that cuts deep.
And though my ego suffered a mortal wound, I will one day find comfort in moving ahead without it.
But not today.
Today I’m still grieving.
One thought on “Death in the Family”
Dear Bob, None of us are perfect, we screw up sometimes at the worst time and that is when we learn. I was told we remember the things most that cause adrenaline, well that makes sense. I also know that just because you didn’t read the dear boys name at that moment, it was all still going forward for him, you didn’t change it a bit. We like to think we are that important but we’re not, he is just fine I am sure! As a lawyer would say there was no intent to harm. When you do something REALLY WRONG let me know. Hope