30 AugFamily: The Hope of the World
I drove the ninth grade football team to their football game in Grantsville the other night. I took a long walk to the local library so I could write for a while. The library closed forty-five minutes after I got there so I had to walk back. My feet were tired so I laid on the grass near the end-zone and relaxed. I was near the concessions stand and there was considerable foot traffic in front and behind me. Most of the traffic was from elementary and junior high age kids. It was fun watching them enjoying a warm, late summer night at the football game. The elementary age kids seemed to be doing nothing more than running around feeling the joy of the night. The junior high schoolers ran around, too, but from the snippets of conversation I heard they were constantly on the lookout for members of the opposite sex.
A few yards away from me I noticed a young mother and her two little boys. She sat down under the score board that stood above the field on two steel poles and tried to conduct a meal of hot dogs, Skittles, and bottled water. The boys, maybe three and four years old, were distracted by all the space around them. The three-year-old scaled halfway up the chain link fence and hung there considering whether to go any higher. When he finally descended he came back to the picnic slapped way the bottle of water his brother was offering him and demanded the unopened bottle. He didn’t want the hot dog, but begged his mom to open the Skittles. He looked like a handful.
The mother was an attractive woman in jeans and blouse. She appeared to be in her early twenties. When her husband arrived I saw her light up. She didn’t fuss over him, but her facial expression clearly said someone important to her had arrived and she was glad for it. She got up and handed him a hot dog and the unopened bottle of water. I couldn’t hear what they said to each other, but I watched as they stood very much in each other’s space and conversed. They were face to face as she asked him a question. I saw a slight disapproving look as she listened to his answer. After thirty-two years of marriage I could imagine that little exchange being about one of a thousand different things. It may have been as simple as why he was late in arriving or something more complex like asking how the interview went. Whatever it was about it will forever stay between them.
The little boys started playing tag while their parents caught up with each other. Their game consisted of the three-year-old running with the four-year-old chasing. The older brother easily caught the younger brother and shoved him sprawling to his face in the grass. This looked pretty rough to me, but the little brother would get up laughing his guts out and run again. Mom and Dad observed this, too. I couldn’t make out the words, but I could tell they were telling the older boy to be careful. The game didn’t change. Mom and Dad allowed the game to go on although I could feel them thinking. As long as the three-year-old thought it was fun they didn’t want to join battle with the four-year-old to get him to quit pushing so hard. As a parent you have to learn to pick your battles.
By all appearances the man had a lovely wife who was a wonderful mother. I looked for signs he appreciated her. He seemed a little more distracted by the game than she was, but he was responsive to her talk. At one point he stood and leaned against the scoreboard pole as he glanced at the game. His wife stood, and without invitation, claimed her wifely right to her husband’s body and leaned up against him facing the same way he was. There was a happy, uncertain look on her face as she did so like she was wondering if her show of desire for him would be acknowledged and accepted. I held my breath as I watched. I was almost as happy as her when I saw him put his arms around her and rub his cheek against her ear. Their two boys chased each other around them like two planets orbiting the sun. It seemed to me the darkness in the world retreated a little from the hope and light that emanated from that family.