The spontaneously written note of encouragement from Jack Georgie, 12, to a Kansas City Royals hitter may have helped turned the tide for the team in the World Series. It is also the reason parents might want to take a moment to let their kids feel the power of occasionally encouraging adults in their lives.
My husband, our youngest son, and I watched Game 6 of the World Series Tuesday night, when the Royals were facing elimination.
Little did we know that the team had a secret weapon in the form of a handwritten pep talk from Jack to Royals designated hitter Billy Butler, who lives in Jack's neighborhood.
“I saw Billy’s pickup outside, so I went home and wrote him a letter,” Jack told his local Fox news station. “Road my bike right over to his house and rang the doorbell. I asked if I could hand it to Billy Butler.”
Jack was allowed to hand Mr. Butler the note of encouragement that told him that all of Kansas City was behind him and the team.
This story caught me by surprise because it was so simple and genuine. While, as parents, we are generally locked into protect mode with our kids, it’s acts like this one that can serve as reminders of the power kids have to make adults feel better.
I recently had to make the command decision of whether or not to tell my son Quin, 10, that our elderly neighbor (who has been like a grandpa to Quin who has none) was diagnosed with a terminal Illness and told he had less than a week to live.
The neighbor was not in favor of telling him saying, “Probably, I should just break it off and stop seeing him now. There’s no hope. Better he thinks I was a mean old man than be really sad.”
The man’s wife scolded him for saying such a thing, but it was clear he was just as concerned as I was about how to talk with Quin.
I decided to talk with Quin, and as a result, he took it on himself to take time each day to remind his friend how much he was valued. It has been more than a month, and Mr. J is back to playing with model trains and telling terrible jokes.
I know my decision may not be one other parents would choose for their kids because they wouldn’t want to burden or upset them.
However, my choice comes from having seen the ways kids can encourage adults, including an experience in my life. I remember being a very young child – around 4-years-old – and seeing my mother weeping over a terrible day she’d had at work.
It was absolutely terrifying at first because I believed that parents were invulnerable and impervious to emotional suffering. To see her cry was a shock.
My mother always told me that I was her “baby bird” and her arms were her mommy wings. “Come under my wing and everything will be alright,” she would say. “Everything is safe under my wing.”
So I put my arms around her shoulder as far as I could reach and, according to what mom later wrote in my baby book, I told her, “Come under my wing. Everything’ll be alright. I’ll protect you.”
I was parroting her words, but a moment later I remember she stopped crying and smiled her strong mommy smile again. She told me I’d made it all better.
In that moment, I felt empowered and strong for the first time in my life. It is one of my most enduring memories, as well as one that has influenced my parenting.
That moment of parental vulnerability and child empowerment – allowing the baby bird to leap and soar from the nest – is one I have forced myself to allow each of my sons to have in his own time.
I have had moments as a parent when I have tried to lock myself away from my boys in order to keep up the appearance that parents are perfectly bulletproof non-humans, in order to not let them see my vulnerabilities.
However, in those moments when they have caught on, I have seen how scared they have been to see me cry. When they have stepped in as my protective wing, I have seen each son come away from that moment with a new sense of pride and self-assurance.
I’m glad that in Jack’s case, Butler not only let this young neighbor enter his home and deliver his note, but the player followed-up.
Butler sent the boy a thank-you letter letting him know that his words were also shared with the entire Royals team. The thank you note also contained two tickets to Game 6 of the World Series – the game my family and I were watching.
Jack got to see his team win that game, perhaps thanks to his effort to energize their spirits.
The Royals will play in Game 7 tonight against the San Francisco Giants at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City.
Our family and many others may want to tune in, not only for the sport, but also to witness a game that may have been made more possible because one boy flew to the emotional rescue of a grown man.