Today is our 21st anniversary and what stands out most for me is my husband’s ability to hold back his own desires of golf stardom for his children and let them find their way. This is not to say that our oldest, Grasshopper and Sensei, did not receive a set of miniature golf clubs on her first Christmas when she was exactly 20 days old. Or that he didn’t take the kids out to the putting green as soon as they could walk. Because we did do that. It was a great photo oppt!
But he wasn’t the dad that made the kids practice their golf swing, or insist that they take lessons when they didn’t want to, or force his love of the game onto his kids. If anything, he limited their golf outings to annually and waited for them to request it.
Our middle child picked soccer over many other sports including golf, only to reject soccer this year in favor of crew. Her friends are country club kids and she gets invited to join them on occasion which fires up her competitive spirit. When this happens, she bugs her dad for lessons to work on specific points of her game. He happily takes her out, but knows that this is a temporary thing; her desire is just to prove to her friends that she can keep up.
Our youngest was my husband’s golf buddy when I took the girls out for girl things like haircuts & shopping. At age three, my son happily joined his dad on the very important 19th hole, hanging out at the bar talking up the bartender. My son with his lemonade and goldfish crackers. Still, my son tries to please us all. He plays golf with his dad. He boxes too. He plays soccer and even some tennis. But his heart, like our oldest, is in art. Manga art, I suspect.
My husband found golf when he was around 9 years old. His step dad taught at the Navel Post Graduate School in Monterey and they played daily at the local military golf course. My husband played golf ever spare minute he had. During the summers, he spent fifteen hours at that course. The older retired military airmen took him under their wing. They played him for dimes and gave him pointers. He was allowed to hit balls by the bucketful at the driving range, without fees.
By the time he was fourteen, he was breaking par regularly. When he played in high school, local golf tournaments opened doors to exclusive golf courses like Pebble Beach, Cypress Point, and The Olympic Club. Golf paid college through a full ride to University of Hawaii. Golf was his part-time job. Golf was his life.
I think the important thing in helping your kids find their passion is not making them your surrogate for fulfilling your own dreams. You can’t force a kid to practice fifteen hours a day; the child has to love it to want to do this, though some [crazy Tiger] parents try.
And while my husband’s smallest dream is dashed — his kids refuse to play golf even for their high school (because he was willing to help coach if they did), he is at peace. He just declared his own golf goals of Senior Amateur dominance. Senior Professional golf starts at age 50 but Senior Amateur is another five years, at age 55. No matter. He has 3 and 1/2 years to get ready.
The thing that your kids do fifteen hours a day may not be your dream for your child. My son’s is screen time watching YouTube videos on the computer while simultaneously playing video games on the iPad. Yet, there is a clue as to what their passion is by virtue of the time suck you are witnessing. It turns out that watching thousands of hours of Naruto and DragonballZ has included watching artists draw these characters. And now my son is madly determined to replicate more anatomically correct versions of his favorite characters in their fully muscled glory.
Manga artist is a long way from PGA golfer, but we as parents can’t dictate what they will love, just as we can’t decide for them who they will love.
To my husband, on our 21st anniversary: you are the love of my life. And you are the best husband and father that I could ever have wished for. Thank you for letting our kids find their way and for holding me back when I started to get Tiger Mom crazy. Our kids are growing up far too quickly, but — hey — when we empty nest in 7 more years, we can put two sets of clubs in the trunk and drive all over the country just you and me, playing golf. Or maybe just you playing golf, and me cheering for you. You know, the victory kiss on camera. Because the kids and I will be expecting you to win. No pressure.