Monday, May 11, 2015

When You're Having A Losing Season

When he told me he wanted to play Little League again this year after a few years off, I admit I was kind of excited. Not at the time commitment, or how the heck we'd get him to all those games and practices while juggling 5 other kids and late term pregnancy. I was simply excited he wanted to do it again. As a parent of a middle schooler, having him involved in activities that grow him in a variety of ways while also meeting his need for social interaction is something I think about a lot - especially since we homeschool. And, of course, it always helps if it is something he actually wants to do.

So, we signed up. We wrangled rides and carpools and got creative with getting him to practices and games. We bought the gear and we showed up and I mastered the art of watching kids at the playground and my boy up at bat simultaneously.

But then something happened. Or didn't, depending on how you look at it. They didn't win. Not the first game, nor the second. Not the third or fourth. They tied once, but at 8 games played, they haven't won. Not once. I steeled myself each time. Figured out what I'd say to a droop shouldered kid, disappointed at choosing to get back into this just to lose so much. I waited for him to slouch through the door, maybe throw his bag with a little bit of aggression against the wall, stomp cleats loudly up to his room.

I waited. And it didn't come.

Instead, after each game, he'd come bounding in the back door. I'd say (knowing full well the score, even if I hadn't made it to the game), in a sympathetic tone, "How did it go, honey?"  - and every time, he lead with his victories. He'd tell me about balls he caught, people he got out, awesome hits he had. He never once sulked about losing, or bemoaned the dismal track record of losses. He continues to head into each game excited to play it, and comes out of it glad he did.

If anything, I'm struggling with it more. But within that struggle, I can see it's teaching me something.

When you're having a losing season - look for the victories. Because they are there. Always. When everything seems wrong, is going off track, is somehow missing the mark and you feel like nothing is panning out - look for the successes. Sometimes it's a small thing, hardly noticeable unless you look closely. It might not seem obvious, on those days when absolutely nothing went your way -- but I believe that there is purpose to our days when they don't follow our plans. I believe that sometimes the purpose can only be seen in retrospect - and perhaps never at all.

I want to lead with the victories. Lead with what I've won, not lost. See life in a way that learns from failure and gathers up armfuls of grace in the little stuff. That is, after all, where strength is gained. Where character is built. In the heading back time and time again into a losing season with grit, determination and joy at the journey, that's where the winning happens.

I'm folding laundry and hand him his stack as he saunters by, all lanky summer boy in from a muddy bike ride. White baseball pants and a jersey right there on top, he pauses at the stairs and asks, "Do I have a game today?" 

"Yep!" I say, watching him out the corner of my eye.


Yeah. Every day, every game. Awesome.

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