My son, Zeke, started playing basketball in January.
He’s six years old. And a little (OK, a LOT) strong-willed. When he doesn’t want to do something, it’s very obvious, and it’s tough to change his mind. Especially when you’re me. The mom. The comforter. The boo-boo kisser. The snuggler when tired, sick, scared, or sad. You see, my kids know I’m a little (OK, a LOT) softer than their Dad. And that’s not to say he’s harsh, I just don’t like conflict; I’d rather snuggle.
Zeke was so excited about his first practice. He was finally going to play basketball like his big brother, Knox. My husband is helping to coach Knox’s team, so I’m the one who takes Zeke to practice. When we showed up at the Xenia YMCA for his first practice, I could tell Zeke was excited and a little nervous. He held my hand the entire walk to the back gym. We met the coach and Zeke’s teammates and they started to dribble and shoot the ball. He was doing great. I was relieved.
Then he tripped on someone’s shoe and fell. There were tears and comfort of course, but it took him a long time to be willing to go back out. This happened maybe two more times for different reasons; the last one making him unwilling to go back out on the court at all. But I tried to remind myself that this is new, and he’s still getting used to it, right?
Week two practice comes, and we talk about how he’s going to play the whole practice and not cry and run over to Mommy. He says OK, but his answer is a little (OK, a LOT) wary. About halfway through practice, he gets thrown the ball, but it bounces a little out of his hands and another boy gets to it before him. This time I knew he was coming over before he even turned around. I tried to explain to him that stealing the ball was part of the game of basketball, but he refused to listen. And being the strong-willed boy that he is, he refused to participate in practice for the rest of the night.
Talking to my husband, we decided to see if Dad’s stronger presence would help Zeke get back onto the court quicker. So, Stuart helped Zeke’s coach during his first game. There were a few times that Zeke went over to Stuart crying, (while I hid behind other parents so he wouldn’t run over to me,) but it only took him about 30 seconds to get back onto the court. He persisted, and it got him his first-ever basket in a game! He was the most excited I’ve ever seen him after that basket, jumping and raising his hands and giving his coach and dad high fives.
You see, we humans are a lot like six-year-old Zeke. We don’t like hard. We don’t like being uncomfortable. We don’t like failure. And when we are trying something new, a lot of times we feel and experience all those things. But God calls us to persevere through the hard times.
To be continued next week.
Jennifer Grandlienard has a leadership development business, Jenn Grand Consulting, and also spends her time as a substitute teacher at Shawnee Elementary School, where her sons attend. You can follow her at @heyjenngrand on Instagram or on her website, jenngrand.com.