The other day, my wife texted me to say that our 14-year-old son had hit a home run in a baseball game in Columbus.
At the time, I was in LaGrange watching our 15-year-old son play baseball.
So naturally I texted her back to ask if it was an over-the-fence home run.
She texted back to ask if it mattered.
I texted back to say that, yes, it did matter. This son has never hit an over-the-fence home run during an organized baseball game. An inside-the-park home run usually involves multiple errors. So was it over the fence or not?
She texted back to say that she didn't know. She was taking our 11-year-old son to get his Little League team photo and got the report from a mother texting from our 14-year-old son's game.
This is our life.
Right before I got married, one of the first of my high school classmates to get married offered me some advice. She just happened to be our homecoming queen. She said that the key to a successful marriage was having separate bathrooms.
Bess and I were married eight years and had two children before we lived in a house with more than one bathroom, and it didn't seem to put a strain on things.
What has preserved our marriage is the text message.
Before the text message, a verbal exchange like the one above about the home run would have taken 15 minutes, and while she was building up to the news about the home run I would have wondered if our house had burned down, one of our children had made the honor roll or we'd just received our monthly water bill.
Now, she relays her message in 160 characters or less. It takes seconds to read, and seconds for me to reply and then seconds for her to reply. In less than a minute, we've made a decision.
We still talk, of course, but about important things that require some hashing out. You know, like what we're going to eat for dinner. After reading her text with the partial bit of news about the home run, I felt regret.
I'd chosen to go to LaGrange to see the older son because he was pitching. If choosing between
multiple events, I try to attend the one where the child has the most to gain and the most to lose or in which he or she might achieve some sort of milestone.
A couple of weeks earlier, I'd chosen the 14-year-old's oratorical contest over the 15-year-old's orchestra concert. I made the decision based on the fact that the younger boy was doing something that most people fear worse than death, and the older boy, who plays tuba, was part of a large brass section that would probably cover for him if he missed a note.
I suppose the real goal is for my children, when they reach adulthood, not to tell a therapist that they were unable to reach their full potential as a human being because their father missed seeing them do something important -- or loved another sibling more than them.
So I felt regret. I wished I'd stayed in Columbus and watched the younger son. And then I started hoping that it was an inside the park homer, because it would be terrible for me to miss his first dinger.
But what was more important, for him to hit a home run with me not watching, or for him not to hit a home run with me not watching?
Anyway, I watched the 15-year-old play, and then I drove to Columbus and caught the second game for the 14-year-old, who was playing a doubleheader.
When I saw him afterward, I said, "Hey, nice home run in the first game."
He said, "You saw it?"
And I said, "Well, I read a text about it."
He said, "You didn't miss much. Inside the park."
Well, until I get the next text message.
Contact Dimon Kendrick-Holmes, executive editor, at firstname.lastname@example.org