Matt Archbold graduated from Saint Joseph’s University in 1995. He is a former journalist who left the newspaper business to raise his five children. He writes for the Creative Minority Report.
I brought my godson, a four month old baby, to my daughter's volleyball game.
Bringing a baby anywhere is like being a bodyguard/spokesperson for a moody celebrity. You have to clean up their messes. People want to come up to them, touch them, and just look at them. But the celebrity doesn't talk to riff raff. All questions are handled by the spokesperson/bodyguard.
The baby has done nothing to gain celebrity status and he drools. So in many ways he's exactly like an actual celebrity.
I wheeled the stroller to the foot of the bleachers and picked the baby out and climbed up into the bleachers with my children.to watch the game. Now, there's soemthing very nice about the beginnings of CYO games. All the girls gather round and say a "Hail Mary." And for a few moments all the conversation in the gym stops. And they bow their heads. It's a nice way to start. All the niceness ends with the "Amen" though. For those who haven't had the experience, watching a little girl's volleyball game can be a little harrowing. The girls miss most of the balls and when they actually do hit it, it's as liable to hit the concession stand lady as it is to go over the net. You should only watch children's volleyball games from bomb shelters or behind makeshift walls like scientists used to watch nuclear tests in the desert. It's like being the armored golf cart picking up balls at the driving range.
And when the game starts, so does the madness. One little girl hit the ball so hard that it got stuck between two pipes in the ceiling. After the first game was over, a ten year old boy came out of the bleachers and repeatedly tossed a volleyball up at the stuck ball. It was like great halftime entertainment. The crowd oohed and aahed with each throw. He came close but I'm pretty sure that some day archaeologists will discover that ball in the pipes and think we had very odd rules for children's games that included wedging balls between the plumbing in the ceiling.
So anyway, the stroller was sitting at the foot of the bleachers and I was sitting on the top row with my four other children and the baby in my lap. Like any other celebrity he didn't seem to care much about what was happening on the court. He was there to be seen.
A few points into the second game a girl hit the ball rather high, it skyrocketed into a light fixture, careened off the ceiling, and landed BAM right onto the stroller. The crowd absolutely gasped. I heard one woman scream, "OH nooooo." The poor children on the court all stood there in horror, each of them looking guilty\ier than the next. The referee actually put her hand over her mouth.
For a moment I was actually confused as to why everyone was so horrified. Suddenly it hit me. Oh they think the baby was in the stroller. So I stood up with the baby and announced, "Don't worry! The baby wasn't in there. I've got him." And I raised the child up above my head for a moment like the monkey with the baby cub in The Lion King and there was an audible sigh of relief. And then applause. Yup. Applause. Little baby's first ovation.
After the game, countless people came up to see the baby and tell me how they felt when they thought the baby was in the stroller. They all thanked God I had him safe in the bleachers.
As I got into the van it hit me. I thought about how horrified everyone was that they thought the baby in the stroller may have been hurt. I thought how everyone loves a baby. But then a terrible thought struck me. I thought that a few months ago, a good number of those people would support the legality of ripping that baby apart with forceps and a vacuum. There's something very wrong with that. Unnatural. I think the natural reaction to a baby getting hurt is horror.
I think that's why supporters of abortion never want to talk about abortion. They want to talk about rights. It's always about rights. Not right and wrong. When people think about babies they're natually protective. I think we talk and talk around it and we talk ourselves out of what's natural until we believe the gasp of horror at a baby being hurt must be subservient to some greater good. But here's what everyone in that gym knew. There is no greater good than protecting that baby in the stroller.
We know this. We convince ourselves otherwise to unknow it. But there's no unknowing the truth. We all must work as Christians to remind people of what they already know. That every baby is a blessing. And every baby is worthy of an ovation.