Growing up, my son always played sports. I wanted to encourage his love of sport, so anything he wanted to try, I signed him up for at least once. Throughout the years we’ve tried a lot – basketball, soccer, baseball, tennis, track, you name it. An only child and super energetic, I jumped at the chance for him to meet other kids and drain some of that energy. I mean seriously, if I could bottle his energy up and sell it, I would be a billionaire and living a lush life on a beach somewhere… but I digress.
While he was enjoying running around and playing his recreation (rec) league sports, I noticed many of his schoolmates were starting to participate in travel leagues and playing year-round. Being a young mom and new to the area, I immediately wanted to know more about this and wanted my son to be a part of those experiences. I collected the information, and, after seeing the time commitment and expense (which I simply could not afford), I decided this wasn’t the best for us at the time.
Fast forward a few years and we were at a place where I could afford the fees. When I asked him if he was interested, he said, “No mom, I don’t want to go to practice and games all the time like some of my friends do. That doesn’t look fun to me.” Well okay, then. So, we stuck with the local, lower-commitment rec leagues and he loved every season.
Growing Up and Changing Priorities
Before I knew it, my little crazy ball of energy is in junior high. He retreats to his room all the time, he’s sprouting hairs on his chin, and he sounds more and more like a man every time he speaks. One day he comes home from school and tells me that he’s going to try out for the 7th grade baseball team at school.
I wanted to be excited for him, but I immediately started thinking about the time I tried out for a team and didn’t make it. To be blunt, it sucked to not be picked!
What’s going to happen if he doesn’t make it?
Remember, he wasn’t on travel teams and he hasn’t played year-round like so many of his peers. My stomach was a ball of nerves for him as tryouts happened. Then, they post the list of players at school and I get the text no mom wants to get from their son: “I didn’t make the team.”
Reigning In Mama Bear
Of course, this happens on a day when he’s with his dad and not me. I try to call and he texts me again, telling me he doesn’t want to talk about it and that he’s okay. As a mom, I’m devastated! And, how do I console my kid via text? They don’t teach you how to handle these things!
Then I go into mama bear mode. You know what I mean, right? The thoughts come fast and furious: Who are these coaches anyway? Are they just picking kids they know? Maybe I should reach out to the school. Maybe I should track down the coach’s name/number and have a talk with him. And on, and on, and on. Woah! Slow down, mama bear!
After a few deep breaths and texts of encouragement, we make a plan for the spring to run track and play rec ball in the summer. That season, he was the Western Indiana Conference Junior High winner for hurdles and runner up in high-jump! So, 8th grade year rolls around and what does he want to do? Tryout for the baseball team – again. We go through the whole thing again, and it ends just like it did before. With a text that says, “Mom, I didn’t make the team.”
Hard (But Important) Lessons
As an adult, we go through life hearing the word NO a lot. No, you didn’t get that promotion. You didn’t get the job. No, you’re not getting a raise. No, you aren’t approved for that loan. As a parent, it’s my job to teach him how to handle the no when it comes. So, even though I’m mad, I can’t show it. Negativity breeds negativity.
Even though I think he’s an amazing baseball player, the coach, who is paid to see the talent, doesn’t think he’s quite ready. He doesn’t play year-round, he’s not practicing and working every day to improve his skills. Is this a bad thing? No! It’s a choice we made together. But, it’s still hard when he doesn’t make the team.
He is going to hear a lot of no’s in his life (probably most of them from me), but they aren’t the only thing he’ll here. Someday, when he does makes the team, get that job, or when life is going his way, I pray he remembers all those no’s and how sweet the YES feels.