It dawns on me that my Minnesota Twins do better if I’m not there cheering for them. I leave town and they have a big winning streak. I go to a game, and our pitcher gets in trouble right away, our clutch hitters hit into double plays with the bases loaded. The team rallies when I go out for a bratwurst, but once I’m back in my seat, our relief ace gives up a cheap home run. This is humbling.
But any parent knows about humbling. Children grow up, and your influence over them declines precipitously. You begat them because you pictured yourself as a wise and beloved patriarch, but instead you become the warden of San Question. Your offspring yell at you and bang their tin cups as you walk through the cellblock. You try to enforce a few rules, and they ignore you. They become painted women in tiny shorts and tank tops and lascivious boys dancing in dim basements to bands with names like Stark Raving Idiots and Degenerate Thrombosis.
Either they will slide into a life of crime and addiction or they will awaken in time to get into medical school and become pediatricians. One or the other. Either they’ll wind up in the Big House, sullen, chain-smoking, heavily tattooed, or they’ll be making the rounds in a starched white smock, placing a stethoscope against the chests of tiny infants. And you, Mom and Pop, will have had mighty little influence on the outcome.
Garrison Keillor writes about being 64. Well worth the read.