August 26, 2022

Faith and Family / Sean Gallagher

Adults can learn a lot from children

Sean GallagherParents are the primary educators of their children. That’s a duty I take seriously in life as the father of my five sons. It’s one that I can only carry out well with the help of God’s grace—and of my saintly wife Cindy.

But I learned early on in my 20 years as a father that my sons often teach me a lot.

I’ve seen them make acts of kindness to strangers that are unfettered by any selfish motivations. Sometimes, they’ll make comments about God, their faith or life in general that shows a tremendous amount of wisdom.

Yes, adults can learn a lot from children.

I was reminded of that in a video clip from a Little League World Series qualifying game on Aug. 9 between the Oklahoma and Texas East teams.

Kaiden Shelton was pitching for Texas East when he lost control of a fastball that struck Oklahoma player Isaiah Jarvis in the side of his head.

The pitch knocked Isaiah’s helmet off. He immediately fell to the ground clutching his head.

Thankfully, Isaiah, was soon able to get up and walk to first base on his own. But when he got there, he looked to the pitcher’s mound where he saw that Kaiden was troubled, knowing that his pitch had knocked him to the ground and could have seriously hurt him.

Isaiah walked over and hugged Kaiden. As other Texas East players and a coach wearing a microphone came to the mound, you can hear Isaiah saying to a crying Kaiden, “Hey, you’re doing just great.”

There’s so much here that adults can learn from. It contrasts greatly with what happens so often in similar situations in professional baseball games. Instead of the batter showing an act of kindness to the pitcher, he’d charge the mound to take revenge, triggering a bench-clearing brawl.

But the lessons here go far beyond baseball. The good and bad behavior we see in sports are often just an echo of what happens in the broader society.

The encounter between Isaiah and Kaiden is a poignant reminder to us adults of the importance of humility, basic human kindness and vulnerability.

The fights we see on a baseball diamond—or in various ways in our homes, workplaces, neighborhoods and elsewhere—are ultimately rooted in a pride that leads us either to refuse to show sorrow for our misdeeds or, on the other side, to accept any expression of repentance from those who have hurt us.

Such pride can also be a barrier to us showing kindness to others who have either hurt us or whom we have hurt but not yet been reconciled with.

Sometimes that reconciliation is impeded by an unwillingness, or inability in some cases, of adults to be vulnerable toward each other.

Both those who have been hurt or have done the hurting might be fearful of appearing weak by showing either that they’ve been wounded or that they’re sorrowful for what they’ve done.

Isaiah and Kaiden, on the other hand, were humble, kind and vulnerable in the moment they shared in that baseball game.

Maybe those young pre-teens had learned lessons about humility, kindness and vulnerability from their parents. In any case, their parents and so many of us adults can learn from their very Christ-like example.

For it is our Lord who is the ultimate example for all of us through his humility, caring and vulnerability—three traits at the heart of what it means to be human. †

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