I am more than fairly amazed at my 11-year-old son’s resilience. He’s had a tough couple of days, but it seems he is not at all taken down by happenstance that might crush an adult; he simply bounces back. I am not speaking of his ability to down 16 Swedish Fish and two packs full of gummy worms in one setting without gaining an ounce, (in good time my son…in good time!), but rather the day-to-day stuff that can reach inside his bony little body and put a choke hold on his fledgling self-esteem.
For example, last night was the last game of his baseball season. His team had been down 5 to 1 but had rallied during the final inning and brought it back up 5 to 4. We parents were in a rapturous lather and were cheering our little on men to victory. When my boy got to bat, the kid before him had been walked to first and the bases were loaded. Two outs were showing on the board.
Let me stop here to say that my son loves baseball. He has improved greatly this year, but sadly, although he made some good plays, he does not excel at batting. He got one hit all year and it was a bunt that went foul. I silently blessed the other parents for not groaning audibly when he stepped to the plate. (They’re good people, these baseball parents). Strike one…ball one…ball two…strike two…strike three. Game over, season over.
While I died a thousand squirming deaths for him and tried to pretend I didn’t notice the other parents avoiding eye contact, he came bouncing up with his bag over his shoulder, corn chips in one hand and G2 in the other. “Hold this” he said, slinging the chips at me as he used two hands to bring the oversized bottle to his mouth, and tried to open it with his teeth. I watched his undisturbed countenance for a moment. Wordlessly, I held the chips back out to him, traded him for the bottle, opened it and handed it back.
On the way back to the car, my husband broke the heavy silence. “That sure was an exciting game. Too bad you guys didn’t pull it off.” There was no pregnant pause, although both of us wanted to give Bryce the opportunity to talk about what had just happened. “Yeah,” he immediately replied, “I’m gonna spend the summer getting really good and then I won’t miss again!”
And this is where I find myself in awe of the child. He didn’t bluster about “losing it for the team.” He didn’t pout and shuffle his feet or declare that he “sucked.” And most surprisingly of all, he didn’t look remotely like he might want to cry…it never crossed his mind! He believes he is a good player and that he will work hard and come back even stronger.
What a wonderful, beautiful gift this child has and I will do all I can to cultivate it. Now if I could just cultivate a little of that for myself!