Thursday, December 18, 2008

Tales From the Sidelines

by Amy Platon

It started to happen to me! And I always considered myself a laid-back mom. I’d always allowed my child to develop his skills on his terms.

Let me explain. My five-year old son tried basketball for the first time this year. There I sat, on the sideline, with my camera in hand. Adrenaline pumped through my veins with each dribble he made closer and closer to the basket. He pushed the ball up into the air (breath in). But with such little power, it fell short of the basket-very short (and release). I clapped, and shot two thumbs up at him, “Good job, Honey!” As another mom and I shared an isn’t-this-cute glance.

Meanwhile, his teammate recovered his miss and made the shot. We, the parents, all cheered and laughed with one another. “Wow, this kid is good!”

As the game went on, my son’s teammate made most of the shots for the team and out ran all of his opponents down court. It was obvious he was one of…those kids, the kind of kid with natural talent for the game. Talent, my son did not appear to have.

During that first basketball game I looked down the court at a row of hopeful moms and dads. There was something we all had in common. We were searching for that thing that would set our child apart.

Even off-court I felt the effects. My husband would occasionally come home from the office with the “So-and-so’s son can read-he’s only three-they’re looking for a special school for him-” story.

Our son was not an early reader, and we now knew he was no super-star b-ball player. He hadn’t even found that “thing” that had him all fired-up. We had friends whose children had obsessions over dinosaurs or robots, things that fascinated them for hours. Yep, no such luck with us.

I found myself wanting something (anything) for my son that he could obsess over. I wanted us "in" on the race.

The pressure was building. All I saw were the kids that found their…thing. Was I a bad mom because I had not exposed him to enough?

I knew the answer was no, essentially. I do love my boy. And, at the very least, I wanted theses things for him. But where was his passion?

Those amazing, super-human kids that play Mozart as infants, or can recite all the presidents (and their wives) by name, where did they find it? Do we all have it in us somewhere? And then it occurred to me. It took me 25 years to find my thing. But the good news was, I had it all along.

The best thing about that gift-what ever it is- is that once it’s tapped, it comes on strong. The time spent searching for it (how ever long) just melts away.

Basketball continued, and my son improved. He most improved, actually. His coach awarded him the Most Improved Player trophy at the end of the season.

In hindsight I realized that essentially, our kids only have to be good at one thing at the end of the day. My son will have a lifetime to find his. As long as I can keep his precious little gift clean and clear of fear and logic, so he’s ready to receive it, whenever that day comes – then, I’ve done my job.

He’ll be in basketball again next season. And if he thinks it’s cool, then he can try the swim team in the spring (wink).

Ahh, now that’s better. A little more like my kind of parenting!

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1 comment:

  1. You're right. Some people search for that one thing that they're good all their lives, thinking maybe it wasn't there. But, it is there, waiting to come out. It's just a matter of time.