24.Feb { Nod of Approval }


Growing up in a home where my parents were divorced…and still growing up themselves.  I found myself in a lot of situations where I would be doing something that was of great importance to me, and there was no one there to share in my moment.

I vividly remember when I was in the 2nd grade, I had to memorize a great portion of the MLK speech and deliver it in front of the whole school.  My mother worked with me many nights to make sure I was ready to deliver.  The night of the speech I was dropped off by a friend of my mother at the school.  Backstage I was pacing and going over the speech, glad that my mom had been there to help me as much as she did.  When the time came for me to go on stage and show the world what little Kenny Bradley could do, I confidently walked on the stage with my short-sleeved white shirt and bowtie, and gave the speech flawlessly.  As I spoke the words of Dr. King, I panned the crowd to see my mothers face, to see her smile, to see her give me her nod of approval.  It never happened. I finished the speech with the biggest lump in my throat.  Afterwards, other kid’s parents shook my hand, and gave me hugs.  This was great, but no one was her.

There were many times growing up where there was something monumental going on, and I had to just live in the moment myself. Breathe and enjoy what was going on, without those that meant the most to me there to witness.  Other parents would praise my accomplishments…but no one was her, no one was him.

My senior night in high school – the last game in high school, where parents come and walk out during half-time to stand with their kid to celebrate the closing of a chapter.  To witness a mark of maturation.  Both of my parents came!  I tried to play my soul out on that court the first half.  Attempting to not look in the stands because I wanted to focus on making them proud of what I could do on the court.  Half-time came, and they both walked out on the court with me – THIS WAS AMAZING!  The second-half started and I was back in the game, in the zone. I mean at this point I felt like I was really making them proud…I looked in the stands for a nod of approval and no one was there. They left right after half-time!  Many parents were still in the crowd – but none was them.  This was crushing.  The rest of the game was horrible, an immediate headache came and after the game I was in literal tears.

I had the chance to go see both of my boys play last weekend.  It was my first time seeing them play…many times they would look over to the bleachers and we would make eye contact…and I would give them a nod of approval.  This made my chest warm, and my soul smile.  Even though I live in Washington state, their mother attends all of their games, and when I’m in town – I’m there..hugging them, kissing them…nodding at them…

nodding at myself.

– Kenneth