All Apologies

I screwed up yesterday.


Within the span of an hour.

Twice within one hour yesterday I had to apologize.

Not a Seinfeld-ian darkly humorous, “I’m so sorry, George?” apology.

Not a Better Off Dead-esque really darkly humorous, “Gee, I’m real sorry your mom blew up, Ricky” apology.

Not a CYA, “I’m sorry if…” non-apology apology.

But an actual, sincere apology.  Twice.

(At least that’s how I intended them. I’d say it’s up to the recipients to determine sincerity.)

First, I put our son in an untenable situation. I help coach his 2nd grade basketball team; we practice on Thursdays. Practice ended with that time-honored tradition: a scrimmage. A half-court scrimmage. Which was fine and fun until Joshua grabbed a defensive rebound…and immediately put a shot right back up. The head coach said something to him that I couldn’t hear, but I saw his face fall and get that look. The look he gets that says, “I was just reprimanded and I don’t understand what I did wrong…and, even though I don’t want to, I’m really close to crying.”

I hate that look.

Then, a few minutes later, it happened again: Defensive rebound, immediate shot, comment from coach, face falls even farther, the look – this time revved up to tears-forming-in-the-corner-of-his-eyes.

I really hate that look.

C’mon, not in some meat-headed, boys-shouldn’t-cry type of hate. It’s a my-child-is-in-pain-and-I-can’t-make-it-better kind of hate. Then it hit me: it was my fault.

It was my fault because we’d never played half-court before. Josh didn’t know anything about “taking the ball back” before shooting. We didn’t explain half court rules, we just assumed everybody knew them. I set the boy up to fail. I put him in a position in which he couldn’t succeed. I failed him as a dad and as a coach. I really, really hate when that happens.

Clearly, I owed him an apology.

In the car on the way home I explained what I did wrong, we both cried a little, and I tried to explain how to play half-court ball. Which is harder than it sounds when strapped in a seat belt.

Fast forward about 45 minutes…

My phone rings. “Hello, Dave? This is Chris*…”

Now my eyes widen huge and fast just before my face falls; synapses fire revealing the truth I didn’t even know I’d forgotten: I was supposed to be meeting Chris and Chris’ betrothed right at that moment.

I. am. a. dope. Completely forgot the meeting.

Once again that night, I needed to apologize.

It is humbling to be offered grace by your son and a parishioner.

As Nadia said at C21, “grace is easier to preach than to receive.” Turns out, though, that receiving it is pretty fantastic too.


*Protecting the innocent by not using real names.

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