The Louisville Slugger Philosophy on Life…
One day in… I don’t remember when… my oldest daughter, then age 15 years, 11 months and 28 days, came to me with a legal size yellow pad, a pencil and a determined look in her eye and flicked off the TV. She sat down and stared at me with a new intensity.
“Well?” I asked uncertainly. After all the raging I did about all the TV they watch, I knew I could not show my frustration at having the darn thing shut off in the middle of the news.
“What are the rules, Dad?”
Well, now I knew what she wanted. I was stunned to think that the day had finally arrived. She was soon to be 16. She was going to date. We made up no new rules in twenty years as our family went thru life… and she was my number 3. But she was my oldest girl, and maybe she felt the rules would change for HER…
I reviewed the old family rules with her. All our children knew the basic Mormon rules in my house… no dating until age 16… and with very few exceptions, only double dating until age 18… And Dad wants to WHERE yer goin’, with WHOM, and ETA (estimated time of arrival) on return to my front door. And ETA darn well better be REAL close. Unless you need to come in early, and then Dad will be all smiles.
And Dad meets every young man first… (or for the boys, Dad gets to make sure there are no axe murderers in her past…) and I get to ‘splain the rules to HIM… We discuss destination, ETA and activities planned prior to departure… and we detail the activities. I persuade the gentleman that dire consequences are the result only of PPPP (sparing you the complete lingo, pretty poor prior planning) and that he will be well received if in compliance with our agreement.
She picked up quickly on my desire to meet him first.
“Daddy… you won’t really… well… scare him off, will you?”
Here was my young beauty, one who would make the rules and pick her winner with numerous sad losers around her. I thought to myself that she was afraid I would ruin her social life. In reality, all I wanted to do was create an effective climate of consciousness that two young kids might not lose when they were alone, in a dark corner, trying to figure out the mysteries of life…
“No, Baby… but I will explain yer Daddy’s Louisville Slugger philosophy of life…”
“Louisville Slugger… my Louisville Slugger philosophy of life.”
“DADDY… don’t play around Dad. What does that mean?”
“Angel… I ain’t playing. And I will explain it so even a moron… er… HE will understand it. Don’t worry. He can’t take offense.”
She was looking frustrated. She had made so much progress during this “interview” that I did not feel she could stand any serious bonehead mistake on my part, such as complete insensitive candor, so I reached over and hugged her… then pulled her into my lap. I was on a recliner, and she sat in my lap for the last time I can remember… I knew it might be that way, but it was very important for her to know my love for her.
“Angel, you don’t know how much yer Dad loves you. Or what he would do for you if he had to, to ensure your happiness or safety. So listen carefully.”
She had been at the brink of tears, and was happy to let me hug her, so she was quiet. I started carefully.
“I remember once, when you were a child and traveling with Momma and Daddy, you woke up from a dream and you were crying.”
She listened quietly.
“You were so happy to feel me hug you that you smiled from ear to ear, and said you wanted to live with me forever.”
She giggled, and hugged me back.
“I had laughed a bit, then told you that you would meet Prince Charming, and he would snatch you up and run away with you to live happily ever after.”
She said nothing, just listened.
“You burst into tears, saying no man would ever take you away, and that you didn’t want to leave. I reached down and picked you up, held you close and told you that you would never have to leave, and you could stay as long as you wanted.”
She giggled again, then snuggled a little closer.
“You slept with Mama and I the rest of the night, and in the morning, it was forgotten.” I looked at her a moment and went on.
“Well Baby, I have a rule I have learned from your Grandma Fancher. I will never interfere with my children in their selection of spouse, or in their marriage, so long as minimum rules are obeyed.”
She pulled back and looked me in the eye. I could read her mind.
“You see, all my rules will make you happy. Maybe not just now, but eventually all of them will ensure you have a chance to be really happy. That means you cannot simply run out into the world and bring home a wino… or do drugs… or booze… or any of the other bad habits that there are around.
And after your spouse is chosen, you cannot simply get mad, leave him and come home, for example. At least, not this home. You will have to work it out. With him.”
“OK, Dad… I think I get it. What about the Slugger thing?”
“Oh yeah. See that bat over there?”
I looked toward the fireplace, and in the corner was the old bat. She nodded.
“That is my Louisville Slugger. I will take the young man and invite him to sit there…” on the couch… “…and tell him I would like to talk to him, mano a’ mano. He will sit down and worry a bit as we chit chat… then I will tell him.”
“I will tell him that so long as you are out with him, he is responsible for the one of the sweetest things in my life… that I know you and your loving nature, and that I understand all of that is all good.”
She beamed a bit… then listened as I continued.
“I will tell him that so long as he is good to you, and so long as you feel good about him, he will be my friend. That I am a powerful and helpful and faithful friend.”
“Cool,” she whispered, almost in relief.
“Then,” I went on… “I will tell him that so long as he is good to you, no matter how it turns out, I will always be his friend. I will then tell him that if he ever, ever hurts you, or your children, I will be very unpleased.”
Nikki’s furrowed forehead knit together her two eyebrows as she could see the dark cloud in my eyes.
“And I will tell him that ‘…once harm comes to my daughter, or my grandchildren, I promise you that I will not kill you. And I will do it with that bat.’”
I have never had to make good that promise. And for my daughters, this discussion has helped sort out some of the wheat from the chaff.
About the author
The first line was a beaut! What a great story....it reads like a novel. Real people, real issues, a story to remember!