While a lot of my time spent in Haiti last week was occupied with meetings and administrative work, I also spent a lot of time just being with the kids. They would come up to our house for movies or Xbox, I spent a lot of time at their house talking, and we went and played at Hope Rising or the local soccer field a few times as well. This was just as important as the other work I had to do, and it was really good spending time with them.
One of the evenings as we were leaving Hope Rising right before dark, one of the older Haitian men who had been playing soccer with the kids challenged me to a game of basketball. This happens quite often, and I usually end up playing against someone who is a foot shorter, 100 pounds lighter, and has grown up playing soccer their whole life (just so you know, it is very easy to spot a soccer player trying to play basketball).
Anyway, I turned down the challenge because we were leaving and I started walking towards the car with the kids. The guy was quite persistent, however, and kept asking me to play. I am not sure why he kept asking, but he seemed to really want to beat me.
Anyway, the kids are very proud that I have taught them to play and they always like to watch me play against people. It has been about 4 years since this happened last, and now I am over 40 and have not played much at all recently. On top of that, I am just an average basketball player to begin with. With all of that said, the kids talked me into playing.
Before I tell the whole story, it is important to note that, yes, a bunch of teenage boys did talk me, a 41 year old man, into playing a 1-on-1 game with a guy about 15 years younger than me.
In the game, I got the ball first and I backed the guy down and made a layup. He was actually pushing me with both hands but I did have about a 100 pound weight advantage on him. The next play, I just kind of through up a shot and then the guy I was playing made 2 in a row.
We were playing to 10 by ones, and I could tell our kids were getting disappointed that I was losing. I really was not playing very hard because it did not seem to matter until I noticed that they really wanted me to win. So, I ashamedly used my size advantage and scored the next 9 points all on easy lay-ups where I backed the guy down.
We then left, but as we were leaving, all of our boys kept jumping on me (I was a little sore from the 8 minute game I had just played) and high-fiving me. They were so proud that I had just beat this guy who, I found out later, had been talking about how easily he could beat me in basketball.
I am not proud of how I handled the game (using my size rather than skill to win), but it is a good story about how proud the kids were of me for what happened. Our kids, your kids, need someone that they can be proud of. Not in basketball necessarily, but in life. They love to have someone in their life that they can brag about, and even the smallest things work. It was kind of like the whole “My Dad is bigger than your Dad” thing, and it never goes away.
That small, funny game reminded me that our kids need someone to look up to. They want someone to look up to and to model their life after. It is a big responsibility, but they watch everything that we do. They watch when we mess up, when we do good, and how we handle every situation. I can only pray that GOD gives me the strength to be someone that they can look up to.