I am not a San Francisco Giants fan and I don’t know who I was rooting for in Game 7 of the World Series in 2014. Nevertheless, in one of the most memorable performances in baseball history, Madison Bumgarner pitched the Giants to a third World Series title in five years. And yet my favorite part of the story didn’t happen in Kansas City that night. It happened a thousand miles away in North Carolina, where Kevin Bumgarner was watching his son make history. In the middle of that legendary performance, he sent a text to his son that read this:
“OMG. You’re so much more than awesome. To see you work on the mound reminds me of watching you in high school. You are willing yourself to perfection and dragging the team along with you. I couldn’t be more proud of your baseball accomplishments.”
As Kevin Bumgarner would later tell a writer, “I knew he wouldn’t read that text before the game was over, but I wanted him to know this was what his daddy thought of him.”
I think about that story a lot. I think about that balance of pride and love and appreciation of a child. Those moments where you can’t help yourself and you need for them to eventually know what you are thinking and there comes a time when you go so far beyond unconditional love that you just want to burst with pride.
This was one of those weeks.
On Thursday, Robyn won her second Science Fair, this time for creating a green energy source from…yup, our dog. She called her project “Energizer Puppy” and she credits me with the idea. You see, every time our dog Tiger Lily goes nuts and sprints around and wags her tail maniacally, I always say “wow, if we could only harness the energy of this dog”. Apparently, Robyn took that as a challenge. Ten years old and working on climate change. Fossil Fuels? No, Fido Fuels…
Saturday, she kicked off her third year of teaching young girls how to write code as part of Inventors University. She’s teaching 3D modeling because Scratch wasn’t challenging enough and she thought the kids would learn more from a new subject. So rather than lean on her old content, she built an entire new curriculum. It’s not a surprise that she pours so much of herself into this. She often talks about how she is looking for ways to make money so that she can put it into Inventors University. I remind her that she’d prefer to buy something for herself, but she insists she doesn’t want anything and would rather put the money into a good use. That’s usually when I remind her that I’m not crying, she’s crying.
And today was the Spelling Bee, which she won last year, and we were really worried that she’d get overconfident. As expected, her classmates were outstanding–but so was she. In fact, she and two of her classmates were so good that they ran out of time (and words) and need to continue tomorrow. I’m set to travel to SoCal for an overnight trip tomorrow morning and I spent part of tonight looking for later flights as I didn’t want to miss the conclusion. Forget baseball and basketball, Robyn is fast becoming my favorite spectator sport. Even if she doesn’t win, to get this far despite the pressure of trying to win again (that would’ve broken someone like me) amazes me. I kept leaning over to Cherise and asking “where is she getting this confidence?”
She just continues to outdo herself and confound every expectation (and I’m an Indian parent–I have very high expectations), but she’s never arrogant and always maintains an even keel.
And I must admit none of this means as much to me as her caring nature, her appreciation of the little things, and her ability to make me laugh on a dime. My heart still grows three sizes every time she walks in the room. She and her sister have brought Cherise and me constant joy since the day they each joined the family. Every year that passes brings us closer together. I don’t remember ever laughing this much every day. Even the ordinary nights of ordering in and watching a movie bring a joy I can’t describe.
But still, with weeks like this one, when Robyn is “so much more than awesome”, I need to take a page from the book of Kevin Bumgarner and post my admiration. After all, I know she won’t read this for a while, but I want her to know this was what her daddy thought of her.