I was once quoted (yes even a schmuck like me can be quoted) as saying, “sports are a microcosm of life in learning how to deal with adversity”. Or something like that. Looking back, that’s what my time growing up, playing baseball, football, basketball, track (I threw shot and discus), pond hockey was. While there was the game, there was the learning how to deal with people, how to deal with losing, how to handle winning, how to pick myself back up and how to learn that life either isn’t fair, or is more fair than I want to be honest with myself about.
Enter my kids.
My son is playing baseball this spring/summer. He didn’t play last year and I think is largely doing it to try to make me happy. I admit to asking him a few times if he wanted to play and he confidently said yes, but still I think he was wanting to please. He’s an amazing kid. He plays piano, loves science and engineering, plays chess, does kung fu and fencing.
Tonight was his first, game of the season. He seems a little awkward out there. He’s a big kid and hasn’t quite come into his own physically yet. Yet, there’s a scrappy-ness to him. He manages to connect with the ball. He manages to field balls. He manages to get hit by a pitch, but stand in there and take it. There’s a lot he’s doing right despite his rough technique. The game ended with him making the last out. He was at 3rd base and it was a prime grounder for a force-out. He fielded the ball cleanly and instead went to put the tag on the runner. The result was the same, the out was made and the game was over. They won. He got talked to by the coach to make the force play. That’s just proper baseball. My son didn’t take it well. He was upset after the game and wouldn’t talk about it.
A little ice cream got him talking to his mom (my ex) and it was the coach “yelling” at him that had him upset and he thought the umpire did not call the runner out. Obviously, he did as that ended the game! Still, I can relate to his frustration. I never liked being “coached-up” nicely or harshly. Even playing college football, I didn’t take such things well.
The parent in me wants to shoulder the load, to talk to the coach, etc. but I know that’s not the prudent course. The reality is, my son will play another day and make some good plays and some mistakes. He’ll get talked to again and hopefully he’ll be learning how to become “coachable”. Thus, as hard as it is, I will sit back and let things run their course. My son, who hit the ball and made a great play will hate the game tonight, but will sleep and process and will hopefully be more teachable and have learned. And I will try to weather adversity as a parent and let my son have these lessons as much as I want to protect. In the end sheltering him will just hurt him later. My job is to see that things don’t get too carried away, but until then we get back up and keep fighting.