Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Ball in your hand, and a bird on your shoulder

Dear Wildcat,

There are so many things I wish I could tell you about now. This is your first season playing basketball--a sport that gave me more frustration, self-doubt, and stress than any other in my days of playing sports. It was also a sport that I lived and breathed by high school, and that I could not get enough of at the very same time. One that I miss to this day and wish I was still playing, actually.

This first season of basketball has been a roller coaster ride for you, and for your Dad and I as well. After your first game, where you did pretty well, you froze in your second game. You came back in the next practice and played harder than I have ever seen you play. You got knocked to the ground and popped right back up again with a tenacity that made me proud. You put up a million shots, 98 percent of which didn't go in, and you did not stop trying.

And, then we came to tonight's game. The first quarter went fine. You didn't score, but made some great defensive moves that even helped your team to score. You put your hands up to ask for the ball, instead of almost hiding from it on offense. And, then you twisted your knee...

And, then you sat out. And, it was obvious to your Dad and me that the knee was fine. But, you still sat out. And, you moaned and you told the coach you just couldn't run. For. The. Rest. Of. The. Game.

And, I know you saw the disappointment on your Dad and my face. I know you didn't know how to handle that. And, the longer you sat out, the more frustrated you saw us become. When the coach pointed out at the end of the game in front of your teammates and the parents that he wanted to put you in and you said you couldn't run, I know that crushed you because it crushed us the same. And, then you came home and melted down completely.

Wildcat, we love you and always will. We know that these are lessons you have to learn on your own. I wish so much that I could be there to whisper in your ear the right way to handle things, but then it wouldn't be called growing up for a reason.

I wish I could hug away your insecurities. I wish that I could somehow prevent you from walking in such a similar path from my own years of growing up. It is painful for me, as your mother, to watch you making the same mistakes that I did. I wish I could give you a mirror that would show you what a gifted and wonderful person you already are to all of those who know you.

All I can do is tell you it is OK. That we love you and that the next practice you will give it your all and you will show your coach that you care. I will try to push away my own frustrations with you and build you back up again. I will show you that it is not the end of the world, when you choose the wrong action in a 9-year-old basketball league, because it really is not.

Wildcat, there will be so many more games you play, be it in basketball or in life. There will be times that you feel like you can't get in the game. Times that you play in the game and you wish you did not. Times that you score the winning goal and are so glad that you did. There will be times that you talk yourself out of things that you could have overcome. Successes that you will miss because you didn't believe you deserved them.

I know. I have done the same.

But, I also know that it is these small lessons that will make you grow into the fine young man that I know you are going to be. Your big heart will stay intact and you will learn these lessons each day until one day you can look back and realize that childhood was not so bad. You will have the wisdom to see that sitting out and faking an injury made you realize that your team does need you. That you deserve to be a part of that exciting come-back win. That you ARE good enough to play and you are only cheating yourself when you choose to sit out.

Most of all, Wildcat, I want you to know that nothing will change our love for you. And, I hope that your love for yourself only grows and grows. If I could have been a little bird sitting on your shoulder tonight during that long game from the bench, well, that's what I would have whispered to you. That and I love you more than anything, my beautiful boy.


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Blogger daysgoby said...

That's beautiful, MC!

12:33 AM, June 25, 2008  
Anonymous Wickedly Scarlett said...

Oh, you are just such a good mom :) I have spent my life sitting on the sidelines, and I hope and pray that I can somehow teach my future children to jump in there and just play the game no matter how scary it may be. My heart goes out to Wildcat, and I hope he gets back out on the court next time!

2:18 PM, June 25, 2008  
Blogger LadyBugCrossing said...

He will be fine... sometimes it all just gets to be too hairy out there. Chaos - organized or not - is not something that some of us do very well...
My #1's soccer career consisted of him stepping back from the ball and letting the other kids take it. Baseball was not much better - he was either ducking from a throw or sitting on the bench. It took a long time for him to really get "into" basketball. Now he runs track, swims, does marching band and wants the leadership spots. He just had to grow into it.
Build him back up this week and let him loose!

8:50 AM, June 26, 2008  

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