My wife and I have inquisitive children, especially our son.
When he was 2 or 3, the common question was one word: “Why?” Sometimes it was “What’s that?”
The questions gradually became more difficult.
When he was almost 5, he started leaning over the railing from high atop a cruise ship. I sprinted over and grabbed him, warning him to never do that again. “Why, Daddy? If I fall, won’t God save me?”
I was briefly speechless, and then my answer was, “… Well, son, yeah, maybe He will, but let’s not try it, OK? That’s a dangerous thing to do.”
Childlike faith is a wonderful thing — the more I got to thinking about his question, the more I thought, God did save him; He made me look over at the quick little booger at just the right time.
I wish I could remember all of the incredible interrogation our 8-year-old has offered over the years, but there is a fresh question that comes to mind.
A huge NBA and MLB fan — it doesn’t have to be his favorite teams the Warriors or the Reds playing in order for him to tune in — he posed the question, “Why are they kneeling during the National Anthem?” He specifically asked about Joey Votto, one of his favorite Reds, initially.
I paused for a second and thought about that classic scene from the movie “Jaws,” where a distraught Chief Brody is at the dinner table. He takes a sip of his tea; his son, unbeknownst to the dad, takes a drink of his milk. The chief’s son mimics his father’s every move; and the chief caught on.
My son has been doing this. My wife told me just the other day that our boy was banging on the steering wheel (while they were parked) like it was a drum kit and said, “This is what Daddy does sometimes.”
So, I can’t just blow off this question. The pressure is on.
So, as a white father who admittedly doesn’t 100% understand every intention behind kneeling during Francis Scott Key’s “The Star-Spangled Banner,” I told him, well, son, that’s a tough one. I don’t remember my exact words, but I think I told him some variation of the following:
We live in a free country, and we’re blessed to have so many people who have fought for our freedom in America. So everybody has the choice of whether to stand or kneel during the Anthem before a game. I personally wouldn’t kneel because I’ve always viewed standing in front of the flag with my hand over my heart as an honor. However, when players do kneel, they often still have their hand over their hearts and they stay silent during the playing of the song — and that’s their right to do so; and it’s not disrespectful even though some make it out to be. Kneeling started as a symbol of wanting racial equality (which is when no one is treated differently or looked at differently just because they are of a certain color), and now it’s become a sign of unity, and wanting to be treated the same together.
Eight-year-olds are smarter than one may think, and even though I felt like I was wandering down a winding path a little bit, he seemed to grasp it.
The only part our son didn’t understand is why anyone would treat any person differently just because they don’t look the same as them. And that’s refreshing. I don’t want him to understand that, because that shouldn’t be comprehensible. My prayer is his mindset never changes in that regard.
Kneeling or standing, these athletes have a right to express their freedom in this great country.
As father and son, we’re just glad they’re playing ball.
Reach AARON SNYDER at email@example.com or (606) 326-2664. Follow @ashlandkydaily on Twitter.