One of the first Nike commercials featuring Tiger Woods was a commercial that showed dozens of young people who claimed "I am Tiger Woods." Is it possible, at least in Elliott's world, that the kids in that commercial have all grown up now and have truly become - Tiger Woods.
On the way home from school a couple of weeks ago I was listening to Elliott jabber in the back seat. I was half tuned in to his rambling while I made half an effort to listen to sports talk radio. I was reeled back in from my nowhere land when Elliott blurted out "Daddy, I see Tiger Woods." I ignored it for a second, but Elliott knows that daddy is a big Tiger fan and he didn't want me to miss him so he yelled again "Look daddy, it's Tiger." I was now curious and couldn't help but look to the end of his wildly pointing finger. When I did, I saw a young black man pushing a lawnmower in his front yard. I half expected the man to look at me and smile and say "I am Tiger Woods."
My dad had reported a similar incident when he was in town a few weeks ago. On a walk through town with Elliott, he too was treated to a Tiger sighting. I guess it all makes sense. When we watch golf on TV, Elliott can quickly point out Tiger. But in that frame of reference, Tiger always looks different than everybody else on the screen. And so now when he travels out of TV land and he stumbles across a similar frame of reference, he sees Tiger. I didn't bother trying to explain to him that we are all different in many ways - not better or worst - but different. In part because I knew he wouldn't understand it, but mostly because I didn't want to steal a chance many of us would love to have - a chance to watch Tiger Woods mow his own yard.
This story does leave me with one small concern. Elliott is equally quick to point out Charlie Weiss, Notre Dame's head coach, when we watch football on Saturday. "Look daddy, it's Charlie," he'll say when the camera pans over on the sideline. I love Charlie, but Charlie is, how do I say it, a bit overweight. Again, no better, no worst, just heavy. And because of this, each night when I get home from work and walk through the door, I do so nervous that I'll be greeted with "Mommy, Charlie's home!"
Having kids gives you a microscopic look at human nature. One such view occurred recently. Ian has reached the age where he is into everything. On this particular morning, it was the cabinets below the island in our kitchen. Like I said, Ian has reached that age and this is not unusual. However, on this morning, there was such a passion behind his movements that I had to watch, study actually. I watched as a box of rice made a rough, sliding landing across the floor and the contents rolled out in all directions. Then, out came a roll of Ritz crackers, followed by some popcorn and a few other random treats. When Ian had cleared enough space, he began to crawl into the emptied cabinet. He squealed in frustration; it was time for me to intervene.
I crawled down on the floor next to his tiny butt that was now sticking out from under the island. His little hands were reaching into the cabinet as far as they could extend. His target, a full jug of distilled water. It was the biggest, heaviest item in the cabinet. It was buried in the furthest, darkest corner of the kitchen, maybe the entire house, which is precisely why Ian was so bent on retrieving it. And so it is, we are born with a human nature that drives us to most want the things we are least likely to achieve.
I suppose this bit of nature, at least in a child, can be a good thing, as is the innocent observation that all men of color are Tiger Woods. These are the tiny seeds in a child that grow to be huge plants, and we as parents will help determine whether they are weeds or flowers. I pray God will help us grow flowers.