Being the kind of planner I am, it's not often someone takes me by surprise. But, on Friday early evening, Kenjon Barner managed to do just that. As we were sitting in the bleachers at a school across town watching Brayden's team play lacrosse, all of a sudden, Kenjon saunters on in. DID. NOT. EXPECT. THAT.
Earlier, Brayden had asked if he could/should text Kenjon to let him know he had a lacrosse game. I said, "Sure" - but, we both knew chances of Kenjon even seeing the text, much less having the time to spare in his 36 hour visit to Eugene over the weekend were slim to none. That's the thing about that guy, though, he seems to delight in breaking down expectations...
While folks from Cal Young and Brayden's Pop Warner team knew fully of Brayden's relationship to this formidable NFL player and former UO star, most from Marist did not, as Brayden seldom mentions it and never capitalizes on flaunting it. So, when one of the players next to him on the sidelines freaked out and said, "Kenjon Barner is here in the stands watching us", Brayden calmly said, "I know, I invited him". This was met with some obvious disbelief, but the argument was later well put to rest when we all interacted as the family we are after the game. It sure makes me smile. =)
We were actually proud of Brayden to capitalize on the relationship in one sense, though - it was looking like a lot of the team wasn't going to see playing time, so Brayden let the coach know that he had a friend in the stands who flew all the way out from North Carolina to see him play. Sure enough, Brayden played the final quarter. Thatta way kid - wait your turn, and then use your words wisely to influence... There's so much of John that I see in Brayden, it's crazy sometimes...
After the game, catching up. We had to frequently pause for pictures to be taken and conversations to happen with the "hometown star".
Mikayla spent the majority of the game pestering him as she always does with her big brother. That's why this happened.
Following the game, we invited KB to join us at the house. I baked him the oatmeal raisin cookies I'd promised for his birthday and we inundated him with questions about how his last year has been - both in the NFL and off-season - and both for his professional life and his spiritually/emotional life as it's been his first taste of decision making on his own. (Particularly during the January to April NFL hiatus). He's doing good - has determined the people he can really trust on the team (ironically that would be another former UO stand-out, Jonathon Stewart) and is still on the path of discovering what he wants to pursue and who he really is.
Our time together was way too short, but as it was altogether unexpected, we valued every minute we had with him.