Son, you are seven years old and I couldn’t be more proud of you. Yesterday, I watched you play a basketball game against a really tough team with older and bigger kids. I saw something happen to you and it made my heart almost burst with joy.
I would NEVER say this to you, but you are probably the worst player on the team. What a horrible thing to think about your kid, but it’s true. You can’t dribble and have never made a point during the game. You have absolutely no interest in the ball. You just really like running up and down the court with the pack of kids. It’s always been that way; soccer at 3, T-ball at 5 and 6, soccer again at 4, 5 and 6, and basketball at 6 and 7. You never seem to understand the concept of competition and winning. The ball is an afterthought and is only noticed when you practically trip over it. I don’t even think that you realize some parents are keeping score.
You scored once during a soccer game and did a little dance on the field, looking around to find me and your daddy in the crowd. We cheered you on even though you scored a goal for the other team. It didn’t matter because during that same game, you were the kid that saw someone fall, turned around and helped them up. You were also the kid that the parents would turn to me and say, “I just love watching him play, he always has a smile on his face.”
You guys played a really tough game yesterday. That team wasn’t just better, they were meaner. They were getting to that age when the drive to win at all costs has started to take hold. They threw elbows, tripped the littler kids, the bigger kids yelled at their own teammates to give them the ball. You were right in the middle of it all, unfazed. Your job, since you can’t dribble and can’t throw, was to block. You stood in front of the tallest, meanest kid for the whole game, frantically waiving your arms, joyful, with that smile on your face. He kept swatting at you like a little fly, but you didn’t budge. You didn’t whither. You didn’t give up. He elbowed you in the chest. You clutched your chest with one hand, winced, and kept waiving your other hand in his face. It was glorious.
If you never learn to dribble, never make a basket, never get a pitch and always use a T, if you always kick the ball into the wrong goal, none of that will ever matter to me. You’ve got heart. You’ve got perseverance. You are joyful and you are unstoppable.