After we folded and set out a couple hundred place cards in preparation for the wedding, Jerry, father of the bride, overheard my son ask me for money from the ATM. My son had seen all the video games upstairs and wanted money to play them at the reception later that night. I explained we were going to have to find an ATM that was affiliated with our bank because there was no way I was paying all those ATM fees!
Great uncle Jerry came to the rescue.
He pulled two $10 bills out of his wallet, one for my son and one for my daughter. They could use the money for video games if they promised one thing – that they’d never smoke tobacco. Jerry extended the deal – if they haven’t smoked AT ALL by the time they’re 21 years old, he will pay them $100 each.
So the kids took their $10 and looked forward with anticipation to the night ahead.
But here’s what Jerry didn’t know – that $10 offering of his extended joy to more than just my son and daughter.
You see, my son? He’s not much of a social butterfly. Mingling, conversation? It’s not his gig. So those dollars were actually pretty crucial to him having an enjoyable evening at the reception, crucial to getting him engaged with others in a way that made him most comfortable.
We changed that $10 bill in for $1 bills, changed those $1 bills into quarters, and played bubble hockey most of the night.
He invited me first. I was a little reluctant as I was enjoying myself already in adult conversation with people I hadn’t seen in a long time. But when this little boy invites you to do something, you better do it. So I took him up on his offer and played my first ever round of bubble hockey!
Then he invited daddy and uncle Steve to play. I’m not sure daddy had ever played either, but uncle Steve? He’s a pro at these kind of things. Everyone had fun, and it was a perfect way to engage in something other than conversation.
Later, after dinner, he invited me to play again, not once but twice. At that point, it was a jaunt because we ate downstairs and the games were upstairs. But hey, the special time with my son was well worth the walk. When he took off his coat and wanted to try the foosball table, too, I knew this was serious business.
This business of seeing, of hearing the voice in the crowd that needs something different to be at ease, to feel better about their day – it’s what I love. And this business of playing, it’s something I really need to do more of.
So thank you, son, for inviting me to play.
And thank you, Jerry, for providing the $10 that allowed us to do so. The way you noticed my son’s need did not go unnoticed by me.
(Now let’s hope they claim their $100 deals!)