As I read the paper and ate my lunch at a fast food Italian place near campus recently, I became aware of a conversation occurring a few tables away directly in front of me. The participants were two middle-aged parents and their young adult son who was probably a college student.
Though I was focused on my paper, their talk was not a quiet one and I could hear much of it. It seemed the parents were trying to urge their son to be conscientious about attending class, to keep up with the readings, to get a reasonable night’s sleep on a regular basis . . . things like that. They were very earnest. There was little doubt of their care for their child’s future and their desire that he not squander his chance in the rare time of life called the college years.
They didn’t appear to be getting very far with him. Rather than respond directly to their points, he brought up semi-irrelevant tangents and employed some silly defenses. For example, I think he claimed an attempt to go to bed early one night actually ruined his sleep patterns or something of the sort.
As I left, they continued their discussion. The parents pressing with their advice for the good of their nearly mature child-man. The son trying to run out the clock on the lunch, not realizing the value of his parents’ advice.
I still remember the night my father decided I needed a talk like the one I’d just witnessed. It happened when I was a sophomore in college. Thank God for preparing my heart to listen. And thanks to him for a father who risked the usually invincible ignorance of his son to tell me what I needed to hear.