I've played sports throughout my life. I love sports. Like, really, really love 'em. I'd rather go to a ballgame and have a beer and a pretzel than a romantic dinner. I listen to more sports radio than any music station. And, given the chance, I'll pick up a hockey stick in a second. Also, I can beat Phil at tennis (sometimes:).
And now, our kids are at the age where we can enjoy them play.
And I love this, too.
Philly started playing football for the first time last week.
The first couple practices were hard-- but fun. He was pumped. Mr. Football.
Then he had to put on the pads and helmet...for the entire practice.
And my big man lost it.
He spent the first pads practice in tears. It wasn't like he was noticeably crying...just kind of sniffling and quietly sobbing in his helmet. It was pulled too tight on his head, so it gave him a really bad headache. Pretty sure half the team was feeling the same. Player after player running by with tears running down their little cheeks. It took everything in my power not to run out there and pull that helmet off...scoop him up and take him home. It broke my heart.
And then it got better.
Next practice, Phil fixed the helmet straps and he was good...no headache. Still needed some time to get use to the pads and heat. It really is exhausting for a 6 year old.
And then he had Tuesday's practice. Feeling fine. Getting use to it...but my boy was zoned out. Not into the practice. Not paying attention. No hustle. No effort.
And I sat there watching him. Feeling my blood getting hotter and hotter...and wondering how we should approach this lack of effort. We had not hit this bump in parenting before. Never had to address it...
In one week, we had gone from excited, to feeling terrible for him, back to excited, then disappointed. I know. He is only 6. But I really don't believe it is ever too early to drive home the points of giving 100%...working hard for your team...playing your best because God gave you abilities and talent (and two arms and two legs) and that is your responsibility. Not every kid has the opportunity to play sports...so why is my child wasting it? Even if it is only one practice.
Sitting there, wondering how to fix this problem, I remembered my dad talking to me after one of my 'bad efforts.' I don't remember what sport it was...what game...what opponent. I just remember being in the van, driving home afterwards. He told me, plain as day, that I sucked that game. He saw absolutely no effort...nothing to be proud of. And to get my butt in gear.
I think that is when my mom told him he was being mean:)...and looked back and said, "you did fine." My mom loves everything I do:). My dad, though, had rocked my world. And I felt so disappointed in myself. So sorry I had let him down.
And then I knew what Philly needed to hear. Granted, his week had been hard. And he is a little guy, still learning. But I think kids can hear the truth-- they don't always need to be told, 'great job.' The bad effort should not be ignored.
Phil, Philly, and I stayed on the field and had a long talk after practice. He cried. I almost cried. We told him he wasted our time that night. We were disappointed in him...that the players who succeed and make great teammates are not necessarily the ones with the best skills. It will be the kid who has the most drive. Who cares about his time on the field. Who thanks God for his talent by playing to the best of his ability. That gives glory to our Creator.
I snuggled him lots that night. Made sure he knew that the only reason we were disappointed was because we care about him. We want him to succeed. We want him to understand--right now at age 6--how to be a great player...and it has nothing to do with his skill level and everything to do with his heart.
And yesterday, Philly played his heart out. His coach even came over after practice and told us how great he is doing:). Philly got the message...a message 15 years in the making:).
Thanks, dad, for being honest.
Even a little hard on me.
It was something I needed to hear.
Something Philly needed to hear.
And it worked:).
Have you parents come across this in your children's sports yet?
How do you handle it?
I love to read about your families...
and how you handle life's difficult lessons:)!