My kids play many sports—particularly my nine year old. Throughout the year, he participates in soccer, baseball, basketball and Taekwon Do. He’s a busy kid.
As a mom, I have a natural tendency to want my kids to be the best at everything they do. What mom doesn’t want that for her kids? But I recognize that my son–my perfect little athlete—is not perfect. For the most part, he’s a skilled athlete. He’s been playing soccer and baseball for several years now and he’s pretty good at both. And in his Taekwon Do tournaments, he usually brings home a 2nd or 3rd place medal. He’s by no means the best, but he holds his own.
I’m used to seeing sports come fairly easily to my son. I’m used to showing up at a game, confident he’ll get some decent playing time—maybe even play a crucial role.
But this is not what’s happening in basketball. No, in basketball, my son is sitting the bench—a lot. Fortunately, he is not the type to let any of this get to him. Fortunately, he has a pretty good attitude when it comes to being a team player. Fortunately, he has a thick skin. Fortunately, he enthusiastically cheers on his team from the sidelines.
I, on the other hand, am another story.
I watched my son play in five basketball games last weekend… and I noticed something: For the fourth quarter of every game, my son got the shaft. For the fourth quarter of every game, the coach rotated in a handful of his “best” players (which I now lovingly refer to as The Dream Team), none of whom were my son. For the fourth quarter of every game, when the stakes were high, my son wasn’t given a second glance.
I was pissed. I was pissed that my son’s coach was such an unfair jerk.
Eventually, my temper tantrum subsided and my rational side kicked in. With a little help from my husband, I came to realize that my son really isn’t one of the best players on the team. He doesn’t belong in the final quarter of a close game. His coach isn’t being unreasonable. This is a competitive travel league and I can’t expect the coach to just play my son because it’s the nice thing to do.
By the same token, I can’t expect my son to be awesome at everything. Expecting perfection from my children is unrealistic. Expecting perfection of anyone is unrealistic.
Nobody is good at everything….but everybody is good at something.
I often have to remind myself of this fact—and not just when it comes to my kids, either. I have a tendency to beat myself up over not being good enough at this or that. But after wallowing in my flaws for a fair amount of time, I eventually cut myself some slack and accept myself for who I am—the good and the bad. I remind myself that while I may not be awesome in certain areas, I rock in others. Though I often–OFTEN– struggle to see it, I know there is a great deal to be learned from life’s little failures.
I’ve come to realize that sitting the sidelines from time to time—watching and observing, cheering on others, taking stock of our own strengths and weaknesses—is humbling. It reminds us that we will not always be the best; it pushes us to try harder; it keeps our egos in check.
While I want my children to succeed in their every endeavor—be it in sports, school, relationships or whatever—I know it will not happen. Life is a delicate balance of successes and failures.
So my son isn’t the go-to man on his basketball team. Much as it pains me to watch (and it really does pain me), I must continue to see that with each game, he’s learning new skills—be it physical skills or emotional. And an added bonus… he loves it. How can I argue with that?
It’s better to try something and fail than to never try at all. This is a lesson that my fearless 9yo teaches me on a daily basis.
How do you handle your children’s little failures?