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The Catholic New World


Feb. 18, 2007


When the Bears lost the Superbowl, nobody in our family took it harder than Frank.

As we pulled on shoes and coats to go out in the cold and wend our way home from a friend’s house, I found Frank sitting on their darkened stairs, still in his Rex Grossman jersey, head in his hands.

“It’s OK,” I said. “Maybe they’ll be back next year. That’s just the way it is. Only one team can win.”

I know they probably won’t; the last time they were in the Superbowl I was in high school, and the time before that was never. But at 6, he doesn’t think in those terms, and next year seems an awfully long way away.

In any case, he wasn’t having any of it.

“They just failed,” he said. “They just didn’t work hard enough. They could have won, but they didn’t.”

As much as I want to encourage his belief in hard work, I’m not sure that’s true. But it might be easier to take that explanation than the one that goes something like, on that particular night, the other team just played better.

Frank is a sensitive soul. Earlier the same day, he was in tears at the beginning of “Air Bud,” a Disney movie about a basketball-playing golden retriever.

The beginning is when Bud lives a stray’s life, scavenging for food, and his soon-to-be companion has a hard time fitting in at his new school.

Frank couldn’t bear to watch—until Caroline called from the other room that Bud had moved into the house. Then he broke up in giggles as the dog proceeded to get a bath— and then spill paint all over himself, the house and his newly adopted family.

But until he saw it for himself, Frank couldn’t believe that a situation so sad could end up good.

Of course, it was a Disney movie, so it had to end well—an idea Caroline, at 9, understands, but Frank doesn’t. For him, ending well doesn’t mean it’s all well. He lives in the moment.

What I want him to learn is that whoever is in control of the story can make it turn out well, no matter how bleak a particular situation may look.

In the case of the Superbowl, the Bears were not in control, no matter how much they wanted to be; in the case of Air Bud, the writers were.

In the case of Frank’s life, God is in charge—and he already has written a happy ending. All Frank has to do is take control of his part, and go along with it.

Maybe it doesn’t matter anymore. The Superbowl is over, and spring training is starting. Frank has pulled out his bat and tee and started practicing his swing, despite snow and sub-freezing temperatures.

It has been said that the four most hopeful words in the English language are “Pitchers and catchers report.”

Martin is a Catholic New World staff writer. Contact her at [email protected]

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