Monday, March 7, 2011

When Your Kids Surprise You--In a Good Way

A couple of months ago, James got a hand-me-down baseball shirt from his cousin Scotty.
He put it on the next day and declared, "I want to sign up for baseball."
Not such a big deal, you say.
What you don't understand is that James had, until that point, staunchly refused to sign up for any sport at all.  
I told him he had to pick a sport to try by the time he was 8, and he only agreed because he knew he had to.
Sometimes James doesn't like to try new things because he doesn't know how to do them yet.
And if he doesn't know how to do them, he can't be the best.
And James likes to be the best.

I once asked him why he wouldn't participate in a game with other kids at church.
"Because I don't know how to play the game, so I won't be that good, and I might not win."
"But James," I said, "if you don't ever try, you'll never win."
He didn't like that very much, but he didn't have an answer for it.

I understand.  
It's hard to learn something new--especially around other people who already know what they are doing.
It's hard not to be the best.
But I also know that if we allow James to indulge in that mindset, he won't grow.
And part of our job is to help him grow.
Thus the deadline.
Because I also have a healthy respect for kids being ready in their own time without too much pushing from Mom and Dad.  (obviously Tiger Mom and I would have some differences of opinion in this area)
It's finding that balance that is often the hardest part about parenting.

It just so happened that it was time for baseball sign-ups.
So the next Saturday morning, Aaron walked the kids over to the park across the street from our house and found some try-outs going on.
James didn't have a glove.  He was wearing jeans and a pair of crocs.  He had never played a game of catch and did not know the ins and outs of baseball.
But he told Aaron, "I've thought about it a long time and I'm ready to do it.  I want to try out."
Someone loaned him a glove and out he went.
I couldn't help feeling proud of him.

Aaron didn't grow up playing sports.  I did, but I was never as good as my little brother, which was exceedingly annoying.  I never got beyond average at any of the sports I played.  We are an active family, but would rather go on a hike than throw the ball around.
I have not put my kids into sports at an early age because at 3 and 4, even 5 they were not ready.  And at 3, and 4 even 5, I don't really think it is necessary for them to play organized sports if they don't want to play yet.
We have done swimming lessons since age 3 because staying alive is necessary.
And while James can do the backstroke, butterfly and a flip turn, we haven't played catch.
He was walking onto that field with almost no knowledge of how to play baseball.
For James, that was a big step.

Most of the other kids didn't know what they were doing either.
I think that helped.
I took these pictures of the kids waiting to catch pop flies.
I love how they are all rather distracted: watching airplanes fly over, putting their glove on their head, doing stretches when they weren't supposed to, and generally being little boys.

James had a great time.

And he is already learning some important lessons.
For example. when you are not the best at something, practicing makes you better.
We're playing catch now and it's helping.
He's learned that if you are afraid to try something new, whether out of fear or pride, you miss out on a lot of fun.
He's learned that the pitching machine isn't nearly as scary as he thought it would be.
He's learned that Mom was right.

Do we expect him to make it to the majors?
Nope. (although he has plans to)
That isn't what this is about.
It's about the lessons that will carry James through his whole life: letting go of pride and fear and having a teachable attitude.
Imagine, all that just from getting a baseball shirt.
We owe a lot to Scotty.

Next up, pictures from his first game.
Love from,


Four Flights said...

Gosh, it is so important to push in just the right amount isn't it? I didn't push Taylor at all until this last year, she asked to sign up for gymnastics and after 3-4 months wanted to quit. My mom let me quit at all the things I tried and I never ended up being decent at anything. My main regret is never learning to do the splits ;) I haven't let her quit though and she has found a renewed love for it and practices all the time at home. good for you Greta in realizing how important it is to find that key word, BALANCE. It's surprising how many parents now a days can't find that. I'm sure neither of us is perfect at it, but at least we are cognizant of it, which is half the battle

katie said...

Very sweet, Greta. I have a post saved as draft about Charlie's 1st game. I'll post it in a few days. I'm glad your guy had so much fun and that he was able to do it when he was ready. You're such a good Mama.