My children are what we like to call “willful.”
Sometimes, this comes across as a toddler decisively screaming for the Elmo fork. Other times, we see it in my first grader’s full on tuxedo as a regular Saturday outfit selection. But in my oldest, it’s his very determined attitude on the playing field.
His gifts mostly reside in his academic abilities. He grasps new concepts quickly, always brings home great grades and still remains thirsty for knowledge. I’m so proud of the student he’s becoming. But to a young boy, it’s more about how he’s doing athletically than academically. As he told me once, “I know I’m a great reader, Mom, but that doesn’t count.”
He’s tried about half a dozen new sports in six years. This is the age when letting your child try new things, if you’re able, is so developmentally important. Sports not only offer children the benefit of exercise, but also help them make friends, learn about teamwork and improve self esteem. So we’ve tried soccer, baseball, golf, football, tennis, swimming, and basketball.
We live in a pretty busy suburb near one of the most affluent parts of the country. It seems like there’s always a camp, clinic, extra training, or travel team we could be paying for him to attend. Most of the best players he’s met are doing just that. We haven’t gone down that road yet, though. We feel like he’s a little young for that time commitment, and we have two other children’s activities to pay for and schedule.
So without all the extra coaching, my son has sometimes struggled at the start of his rec league seasons.
This past summer, he was old enough to try basketball. Restrictions were not in full effect when I registered him, and I thought it would be a good opportunity with school being out to give this a try. And he did great. He’s scrappy, hard working, and practices as diligently on his shooting as he does his multiplication problems.
We just started winter basketball a few weeks ago, and I took him to practice the other night. I’m always proud of my children, especially when they are doing something challenging, but watching him the other night repeatedly practice his jump stop and pivot made me emotional. I honestly choked up. These aren’t easy things for him, but he is so determined to make every effort to do his best when he learns something new.
If I were him, I probably would’ve quit baseball after two no-hitter seasons. Instead, he already asked me to register him for next spring.
I never worry that he can’t do hard things.
I do long for some return on his investment, though.
After the skills drills at his basketball practice this week, the coach had them play dribbling knock out, which he’d won the previous week. I watched him strategize and protect his ball as the other boys wildly ran into one another, slapping their teammates’ balls with no rhyme or reason. As the game grew smaller, my son took more chances and knocked out the other players. He defended his title, and I’m sure he’ll do it again because that’s who he is.