Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Lessons from the Field

Spring sports are in full swing in our family. R is once again playing baseball. It is his final year of coach pitch. He loves the sport. He has heart and hustle. He practices hard. He always knows where the play is.
Despite it all, his small, young team has yet to win a single game. As a matter of fact, we have been beaten by over 20 points twice, even with mercy rules that limit each team to only 7 runs per inning.

And as much fun as it is to win, he seems to still be enjoying himself and improving every game. He is totally motivated despite being out of the hunt for a trophy and not giving up on at least getting a win.
K is back on the soccer field. Although she is not aggressive, she's spunky and fast. Running is one of her great loves. She plays hard and with joy.
But she is tiny. I snapped the photo below at a water break to show that despite this being her age group, she's at least a head smaller than everyone else out there. Her team wins some and loses most, but she's having a great time.
P is also playing soccer, but speed nor aggression are his forte. He loves the idea of being on a team. His mood rises and falls based on whether they are winning or losing--but moving up to the U10 league has been challenging and his attention span has a very hard time with fast moving games.
He's the black jersey on the ground between the ball and the bright orange socks in the photo above. (Not hurt :)
Traithlon training is going better for P, but he's made it very clear to me that he's not in it to win. He told me he likes to imagine he's playing Mario Kart when he bikes or someone is chasing him when he runs...and if he manages to swim the full length in the race without pausing to look for treasures in the pool I will be shocked.
He's quite enthusiastic about it without regard for where he will place. 
And despite how competitive I can is all surprisingly well with my soul for now. It's so counterculture that I am questioning myself. Should I push them harder to care?

I confess there is a tiny twinge in me sometimes when they play with or against kids who are naturally, amazingly gifted in a sport already. I can't help but wonder what it would be like to be that Mama. I love seeing people find what they were made to do and go after it with all their hearts. But we haven't found our "things" yet. And that is OK.

Yes, I want my kiddos to work hard, persevere and do their best, but this season of not being THE best has brought it's own gifts. There are lessons in losing seasons.

I am grateful for perspective.
They are only 8 years old.
Their lives are full and well rounded.
They are happily learning to enjoy being active and to commit to a team.
They are being trained to keep going when things are hard.
As fun as winning can be, it is nice to see them find enjoyment in the sports themselves without trophies (or even W's) as the sole goal.
They are making new friends, developing new skills and having fun outdoors.

And they are definitely learning that you don't always win.


emccalis said...

Well I can tell you what it's like to be "that Mom". The one whose child excels at every sport they play! When he was very young we had to take him out of team sports because he got so frustrated that he couldn't just play every position for the kids who couldn't. So we put him in gymnastics and he won all or the state and regional competitions he entered. Finally he had to choose moving on to the Olympic level training or going back to local team sports. He went back to team sports and thrived. It was always so exciting to watch him play because he was just such a natural and could play any position in any sport and he played them all!! However.... (there's always a however isn't there?), he struggled mightily in school with ADD; dyslexia and always being in special ed classes for numerous other learning disabilities. He was every other kid's hero on the field and yet these same kids made fun of him unmercifully in school all day long. When he graduated from high school, I actually overheard one of his football coaches making fun of how it was a miracle that he even graduated! You better believe this Mama gave him a piece of her mind that day. All chldren have their strengths and weaknesses. Sometimes their Moms may not let on about the heartache and struggles that child faces off the field. So, yes you are proud but also devastated that your child can't do in the classroom what they do so effortlessly on the field of play. Now I'm a grandma and get to watch 3 grandchildren on the field. No, they certainly can't play sports like their uncle did, but they are brilliant students in the classroom. Every child is special in their own way and I'm so thankful that none of my grandkids will have to suffer a horrible school experience. They seem happy enough playing on their teams and I'm thrilled and grateful to be able to share that with them. Yes my son was truly a gifted athlete that didn't learn to read until he was 14. I know he'd trade all of the glory on the field, as well as all of his trophies and ribbons and medals for that same success in school. Too bad God's gifts often aren't spread out more evenly for every kid isn't it?

Liz said...

I have an 8 year old who is that kid that always strives to be better. He is frustarted at every turn and is good in every sport. He is a good head taller than most kids his age and not one bit clumsey actully he is all athlete. If he competes with kids his own age (which is rarely), the parents from the other team yell at him, call him names like freak, say things openly like his parents lie about his age and bought his birth certificate. When he plays with kids that he fits in athletically with, he is so immature and does 8 year old stuff like stopping to watch a train go by and people both parents and kids say things like he is special needs. His competiveness is in both athletics and academics which sounds so good in theory but added with his heigh, people have such skewed expectations.

JMom said...

Wow. Both of these perspectives are so helpful/insightful and remind me that every kid (and parent) has a lot more going on than you see in a brief slice of their life. May we have grace for each other!!

JMom said...

Thank you both for sharing!

Liz said...

Honestly, we try to offer grace at every turn. I have had more than one conversation with my son about people even adults make mistakes and not taking it personal. I have to consistantly remind myself on the sidelines that I don't know what is going on with those other parents and kids. I know nothing I can say will change people's perception. Parents have cheered on their child to strike out at mine. Literally he has been punched more than once on the field and another child even tried to choke him and that child's parents were cheering it on.

It is funny when you talk to my son he will tell you that God made him big on purpose to protect the little guys. He has a great sense of helping others and being gracious. When the school shooting happened in Conn he told me that if that happened in his school he would defend his teachers and friends. Yet this same kids attracts so much undeserved negativity from others on the athletic field.

You really never know whats up with others and you can really help set the tone and frame life events for your kids. I believe with every ounce of my body that God is prepping my son for amazing battles for His kingdom. So we carry on as warriors.

Danielle said...

Jennifer and the commenters, thank you so much for this. I needed it very much today. Our diversity of abilities (academic and athletic) within our same age boys is great and not always appreciated or celebrated by those who do not know their other strengths and weaknesses. Most difficult is the comparisons they make amongst themselves and that other parents and sometimes coaches make of them to each other. My constant prayer is for them to know they are loved without reservation and that their parents really see them, know them and appreciate all of their individual characteristics.

Danielle said...

And Jennifer, I think I have yet to not cry at most successful endeavors because I am always so grateful for knowing how they began. The challenges they have overcome to be where they are today...especially C. You have talked about this before and it always makes me feel better to know I am not the only crazy Mama crying on the sidelines :)