Anyone out there have kids that aren’t natural born athletes? Slow-mo, here I go… wincing, I raise my hand ever so sheepishly. It’s something I don’t want to openly admit because when you’re a part of this no-hit club for some outrageous reason you feel like you are betraying or belittling your child with this admittance that, well, maybe sports are not necessarily your forte, my dear boy.
But here it is. I have sat at countless t-ball and pee-wee league games… watched ground balls roll through the legs of my pride and joy, powerlessly viewed as he felt defeat with each swift, no contact swing. I’ve sat on the soccer sidelines an innumerable amount of times observing the apple of my eye flinch at the faintest trace of ball contact.
“Does he have any siblings? Any brothers or sisters?” A fellow mother once inquired behind the dug out of a pee wee league game.
“Oh, no, he’s my one and only,” I replied naively with a smile.
“Oh, that must be why. See Ben plays baseball all the time with his two older brothers.”
Oh, that must be why????
Who asked you and your extra large Dunkin Donut cup’s opinion? I slowly turned to her as the subtle insult registered with a fixed, WTH? face, but knew it best to suppress the mama claws that were seething to come out.
What did you just say, pee wee princess?
“Mmm…. good.” I civilly replied and then did a swift pivoted side step away. Best believe a cerebral cat hisssss rang every time I caught eyes with that condescending khaki capried Momster ever since that dug out day.
But what’s a no hit mom to do? It’s an unspoken truth. Everyone knows. We all see it. Some parents get to sit smugly, or in certain cases ever so humbly, with their koozies or coffees, watching with a glint in their eye as their super star child hits another grand slam, shoots another goal, lands a lay-up, or aces that speeding bullet serve.
But here it really is. I am not embarrassed that my child is not a natural super star athlete. I am not embarrassed that my pride and joy flinches or winces, fumbles or blunders.
Here is why I am unabashedly proud of my no-hit kid. He tries. By God, does he try. Kills me how hard he tries. As excruciating as it is to see your child fail and fall, it is a glorious moment when you see them dust themselves off and give it another go. And then another. And yet another. He’s scared. He knows it- we all know it, the obvious awkward elephant roaming the bleacher benches of parental spectators. Sports are not his forte, but he still shows up. Still makes the play. Takes that shot. That’s my boy.
Through all his awkward fumbling, this funny little man has taught me about resilience, about spirit, and mostly about heart. He knows he’s not the best on the team and still without a doubt, he keeps his smile. Each and every time. He may not be a natural sporto, but he is such a good sport.
This past week he started volleyball. He hadn’t a clue how the game is played and has been struggling. With his hands stoically clenched on the court, in his statuette bump ready steady position, he stares at the net with such intensity it kills me. He had a game at 10 this morning and then another at 3, so in the interim we headed to Sports Authority to pick up a volleyball and extra socks. We also bought a red sweat headband, purely because it made us laugh. After a quick lunch at Corner Bakery, we ventured back home and began bumping the ball against the bricks of our house. We shared more laughs than successful serves, but he never quit.
At the three o’clock game, he had two successful bumps. Two successful bumps and two near net serves. The second of the successful bumps went over the net. At that moment a roar erupted from the crowd, and as ridiculous as it is, I had tears in my eyes. That unspoken roaming elephant rallied the troops. We all knew what a spectacular triumph that small moment was. The near net serves ignited a similar harmonious, Oooooooohhh!! with even more encouraging cheers from the excited crowd.
See, I know we all know that sports are more than just promoting athletic skill. Sports are about encouraging social skills and coaching kids on lessons about team work, perseverance, grit, resilience, and the spirit.
Here is where my man reigns. He may not make the lay-up shot, or that bulleted ace serve just yet. But I know that he’s got spirit and a heart that won’t resign, and for that, he’s such a champion in my eyes.