As parents we’re constantly looking for opportunities to teach our kids life lessons. Helping them recognize those moments when they can grow in maturity. We brilliantly create ways of relating a simple moment to the bigger life picture with wonderful metaphors like, “You can’t hit if you never step up to the plate,” “All things in moderation,” “Life is like a box of chocolates,” or my personal favorite, “How can you eat your pudding if you don’t eat your meat?”
We are the teacher, the life coach, the person of profound knowledge and experience. We are the life guru, the all knowing, the one with all the answers. (please stop laughing). You get what I’m saying though right? Parents are supposed to be the ones passing on life knowledge. Not the kid.
Which is why it always cracks me up when it’s my kids who teach ME. A truth that takes place all too often and today was was no exception as I watched my own children demonstrate to me the ability to overcome adversity and self reluctance.
My son had two baseball games today. He had made huge strides overcoming fears and internal demons the past couple of weeks. It culminated the other night with his first hit ever. So everyone’s expectation today was
that he’d be all over it and ready to take it to the next level. As the team made their way through the first game, much to our surprise he took a few steps back (metaphorically speaking) and on some levels simply didn’t want
The first game ended and everyone took a short break for lunch. Our son appeared dejected, upset with himself, down, emotionally worn out and ready to go home. Rather than curl up in a corner and allow the events of the first game dictate the rest of the day, my son leaned on his teammates, grabbed a bite to eat, found his second wind and attacked the second game head on. While his heart wasn’t 100% in it, he mustered up the courage to be there and see it through. He was “baseball ready” start to finish, relishing the camaraderie that had developed over the course of the short season and he left with a smile on his face and a spring in his step. In short, he stepped up to the plate and was ready to hit.
How many of you can say as an adult you’ve always approached life the same way? To say that I was proud let alone humbled, is an understatement. As I looked back on my own “game” this week, I recognized more than one occasion where I myself had allowed some minor setbacks to consume me and put me in a funk. I wanted to curl up in a corner, close the blinds and shut out the world.
But how could I watch a seven year old demonstrate such profound strength of character and, as his parent, not be inspired. Is it hard sometimes? Does it feel like our concerns and setbacks are a little bigger than those of a seven year old? They may appear to be, but I submit to you that they’re not. The world is just as intimidating, if not more, to a pre-teen as it is to an adult. To witness someone that young overcome a crippling fear by leaning on friends and teammates was awe inspiring. Conversely, perhaps our own issues are no worse than a seven year old’s. Could it be we mountains out of our own mole hills?
The point? As a parent, perhaps one of the greatest gifts we often overlook, is how much we can learn from our own children about our approach to life. What we put into our kids through our own little metaphors and life lessons, often comes back to us ten fold. Sometimes as a bit of a slap in the face as well. It’s so easy to preach, but how often do we practice what we tell our kids?
I’m thankful for today. During the first game, I saw one of my son’s teammates sit down next to him after a difficult time. They talked a bit and then his friend patted him on the shoulder and gave him a hug. What an amazing lesson to take in. Surround ourselves with people who support you and stand behind you even when it’s not going so well. People who recognize when you’re down on yourself and reassure you that you can bounce back. Makes you want to strongly consider who you want in your dugout when you strike out doesn’t it?
Life after divorce provides you with plenty of opportunities to get down. It can knock you to your knees, make a grown man cry and convince you that you have no business being in the batters box. It’s during those moments that your true character is tested.
And when a seven year old demonstrates the ability to listen to a friend, suck it up and make the most of his next turn at bat, how can you not be encouraged to take a look at your own game? The next time life throws you a curve ball, consider that seven year old, grab your bat, step into the batters box and take a swing. Your chances of getting a hit are exponentially greater than if you decide to take yourself out of the game and sit on the bench.
How’s that for a metaphor?