Eons ago, back when I was a teenager in high school, I ran on the track team. I ran in the distance events, occasionally dropping down to run a middle-distance leg on a relay team. One day, my track coach assigned me a workout that was very heavy on sprints. “Coach,” I said, “why am I doing all these sprints? I’m terrible at sprinting.” My coach just looked at me and replied, “That’s why you’re doing them.”
When my dear wife informed me that she was once again with child, I imagined a similar conversation with God. “Lord,” I said, “why are you giving me another kid? Can’t you see that I’m a lousy dad?” God the coach replied, “And you’re going to keep raising them until you get it right!”
So, maybe by the time the youngest Hilgefort comes of age, I’ll have finally mastered the parenting skills that some men bring naturally to the task.
(Please don’t misunderstand me. The self-deprecating remarks above apply only to me and not to my older children. My wife has heroically compensated for my clumsiness, such that they seem to be turning out pretty well. I only hope that they don’t hold my failures against me.)