The heart is a very, very resilient little muscle. It really is.”
― Woody Allen, Hannah and Her Sisters
I’m a worrier. I’ve covered this ground on my blog before, but I’m specifically talking about the way I worry over my sons. I worry about their skin and bones. I worry about the way the “world” forces its way into their minds. But, mostly, I worry about their hearts. I want to prevent that little muscle from breaking more than anything.
When my boys were babies and toddlers, I was repeatedly advised to not worry so much.
“You’d be surprised at how babies bounce.” (Yes, someone said that to me.)
“They don’t break easily.”
“Little boys are tough.”
“He’ll get over it faster than you will.”
I heard all of this and more, but still, I worry about their precious little hearts. Last week I tried to prepare by 10 year-old’s psyche for the sure-to-be-disappointing baseball tournament – our first ever. I had been warned by other parents that our team couldn’t really compete with the other travel teams in the league. Our city had, in fact, lost by a score of 32-3 last year.
But how do you tell a little boy, chosen for this All Star team for the very first time that he wouldn’t emerge victorious? Wouldn’t it be worse to crush his hope than to deal with disappointment? Every night for three weeks, we dropped him off for two hours of practice in the hot sun. He never complained about the heat, or the commitment. He donned all the catching equipment every day and soaked up his coaches’ praise like a sponge. In fact, he blossomed.
We made the 45-minute trip to the tournament site with a supremely confident player. It only took a ½ inning for all that bravado to disintegrate, as his team struggled to keep up. Plays that had come easily during the regular season now appeared impossible. I watched with my heart in my throat as my sweet boy tried to keep tears at bay returning to his dugout. The strong hitting he had shown all summer evaporated in the face of new pitchers.
Although his team rallied in the second inning, they lost via the “mercy” rule, down by 10 runs in the fourth. (By the way – I’m not sure the word “mercy” is any less cruel than “slaughter rule” when it comes to 10 year-old boys.)
As I feared, he took responsibility for the loss upon his own slim shoulders, blaming himself for every missed out and missed swing. His coach called it…telling him that he had the biggest heart of any player. That big heart was broken and there was nothing I could do but reinforce his coach’s message that they win and lose as a team, always.
Night two was more of the same. I secretly hoped that his coach would pull him out and let someone else catch just to relieve that sense of responsibility. But, he played every inning, just as he had practiced. Less than 2 hours later, the umpire invoked the “mercy” rule. His team was finished. Double elimination. Double heartbreak.
Shoulders sagging, tears brimming, he made his way to the car. I tried to stay positive. My husband and I told him we were proud of his play, his attitude, his poise. He stared out the window for about the half the ride and then, visibly, shed his disappointment.
I saw his posture change, his face brighten. “Well, at least I don’t have to go to practice every night anymore. And I get to keep my jersey and my hat. Isn’t that cool Mom?”
Worry not, Mom. Resilience comes naturally to little hearts.
8 thoughts on “Monday Quote: Resilience”
Good for him – seeing the bright side. I don’t blame him for his initial dissapointment – I loved Little League!
Watching your children hurt is always hard. But, in an odd way, not winning can serve us well. We learn that we can, and should, go on. That “losing” does not make us losers. That hard work does not guarantee success, but as your wonderful son seems to understand, is often its own reward. (hmmm, wonder where he picked that up? ;-)) Clearly you and your husband are doing a great job and have a lot to be proud of. What a great kid. Winning is good, losing and not allowing the loss to beat you? Priceless.
I am humbled by your kind words. We are certainly doing out best, but I think I learn as much from my sons as I teach them. If I could save them the hurt, I still would. But since I can’t, we’ll all learn what we can from it. Thank you Cheri.
It sounds like your son has a lot of your wonderful qualities! Disappointment can be hard to deal with, but it’s a part of life that can’t be avoided. The most important thing is for your son to have a loving and supportive family to be there for him, and he definitely has that!
Thank you Sandra. Will you please remind him of that in a few years when he will inevitably blame us for everything?
I loved this post so much! So very well written and emotional! I am glad your son recovered quickly!
Thank you for those kind words. I have definitely found the rewards of sharing myself to far outweigh any of the risks.
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