At 10:36 AM on Friday, November 26th, 2010, I embarked upon a golfing odyssey with my 52 year old brother, my 20 year old niece, and my 7 year old son. What follows is something of an account of what might have happened that day...I'll let you pick fact from fiction, that's a bit more fun anyway.
7:15 AM...during slumber, I roll over to find another cool spot on my pillow, I catch a glimpse of something out of the corner of my eye. My son remains perfectly still, as I roll over to look at him...sitting cross legged, with 2 and 1/2 layers of clothing on, in his bed, with his snowboarding cap (which I learned is a stocking hat with a tiny bill)...he's patiently waiting the 9:45 aM departure time. I go back to sleep.
9:45 AM (or if you know me...about 9:55 AM) Departure for course with coffee.
10:15 AM Practice Range. Malcolm, the boy, is hitting golf balls next to an older Asian gentleman. I'm hitting golf balls at some distant target, completely amazed at my astounding accuracy. I am truly the Arnold Palmer of the driving range.
10:20 AM Practice Range. Malcolm nearly connects with Mr. Miyagi's backswing, narrowly escaping disaster.
10:21 AM Practice Range. Malcolm, imitating a Shankasaurus Rex, nearly takes out Miyagi at the knee caps.
10:21: 15 AM Practice Range. I cease being Arnold Palmer on the driving range.
10: 40-ish AM. We tee off.
We played fairly well, I personally was playing much better than I anticipated...no windows broken, no cursing...all was well and good. However, between the four of us, the two impatient fathers and the not-so-lightning-quick progeny...we wound up falling behind in our slot...with plenty of golfers behind us.
11:12 AM. Hole #4 I hit my tee shot while not looking at my ball...it "felt" like it went straight up. None of us can find it...so I hit a provisional, which I do see as it makes a hard right around the fairway bunker and lands with the grace of a wounded goose in the trees. [blood pressure begins to increase...see Psycho Golfing Entry a few weeks ago].
11:15 AM. Hole #4 Fairway. Find first ball, miraculously deposited in fairway by The Lord. I always knew He had my back. Hit green. Make putt. What we call a "Worst to First Birdie". I'm amazed, happy, and a bit confounded as to how that all happened. My brother three putts...which is just the golf world equalizing itself back into equilibrium.
11:20 AM. We let the group (#1) behind us play through. I feel as though I'm doing pretty well with the slow play (see previous hole). I remind myself that we are here to have fun and we have all day.
11:45 AM. We let the group (#2) behind us play through. It is Mr. Miyagi and friends. NOTE: Asian golfers are the most appropriate and polite golfers I have ever been around. After speed putting (which they knocked their shots pretty close), two of them apologized to us for our slow play and actually sprinted back to their carts.
2:30 PM Hole # 13. Malcolm has a knee on the green and is spinning himself around like a break dancer. This increases my blood pressure, but I'm unclear as to exactly why...he's having the time of his life...but it bothers me because he's not being a perfect little golfer.
2:45 PM Hole #14. Malcolm requests permission to hit his ball over the creek...which means he's GOING to hit it INTO the creek...but he does ask. I lose golf balls all the time, this doesn't bother me...too much. He fires two of them dead center into the creek, which is only about 5 feet wide. He looks at me. "Well, that's not too bad, you hit the second one pretty hard". "Yeah, I'll drop on the other side"...he says with a smile.
2:46 PM Hole #14. I realize why I'm here.
I'm here with my boy. He's having the time of his life, playing golf with his daddy, his uncle, and his cousin. He wants nothing other than to line up and play with us, feeling like he belongs. He's not a pretender, he's the real deal. He has no problem plunking two balls right in the water. Doesn't phase him. He's playing golf with his daddy, his uncle, and his cousin...and there's nothing that can derail his day.
G.K. Chesterton once wrote that God is younger than mankind. Repetition only becomes dull to Adults, because we grow up. Children can do the same thing, watch the same show, play the same game, over and over again...and wake up and do it again tomorrow. Chesterton relates that mental picture to God overseeing the sunrise and sunset every day...it never gets old.
Malcolm was in that wonderful spot that children go to when their world becomes perfect for a little while. He was insulated, he was protected, he was unashamed...he was joy.
As for me, I almost missed it. But, perhaps the prayer I prayed found the ears of the Ancient One, when I asked to be shown something I'm thankful for...that I've missed in the past.
The utter joy and satisfaction of playing really slow golf with a 7 year old boy that holds my heart wherever he goes.