Mr. Empathy

Despite a work day filled with meetings and deadlines, my mind last Thursday kept coming back to two more important things – passing the learner’s permit test, and making the lacrosse team. It was, of course, my 15 year old daughter and not me who was actually having to go through these trials. And, I had every confidence that she would do just fine. My thoughts, though, kept going back to 1980….

I showed up for varsity football tryouts my junior year of high school knowing that I had my work cut out for me. While I had done fine on the 9th grade team two years before, I had decided (for reasons I can’t begin to explain) against playing JV my sophomore year, so I was an unknown quantity for the coaching staff. Lacking that year of experience and visibility, and without the size, speed, or talent to make up the difference, the results were predictable. After two weeks of two-a-day practices in the steamy August heat, the head coach called me into his office, thanked me for my efforts, and told me there weren’t enough jerseys to go around.

One of those “character building” experiences, I guess.

Several months later, shortly after my 16th birthday, I arrived at the DMV to take my road test and get my license. I didn’t expect any problems. With all of the misplaced confidence typical of a 16-year old boy, my plan was to do the test, smile for my picture, tuck my newly-minted license into my wallet and hit the road.

Funny how running one little stop sign during a road test can put a crimp in one’s plans. I was one of several who was cut from the football team. I was the only one I was aware of (the only one in the history of the world, as far as I knew at the time) who failed his road test. More character building.

Fast-forward to last week. I dropped my daughter off at school on Thursday knowing that the day would have her facing both her learner’s permit test and the announcement of lacrosse “cuts”, and I knew from my own experience how she might be feeling when I picked her up after practice. Just call me Mr. Empathy. I hoped that I wouldn’t have to relate my own experiences to help her through hers.

As it turns out, my worries were misplaced. She aced the test and made the team. So, I can safely shelve the memories of my high school traumas – at least those two, anyway – for another couple of years.

Her 13 year old sister will be at the DMV before we know it.


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