In early June, deep into the end of school craziness, a particularly busy weekend of seemingly endless sports culminated in a final Sunday softball game, under the lights in our town’s fancy stadium, starting at 6:30pm.
Games under the lights are always a lot of fun. My daughter begged to pitch and was given her opportunity during the last inning. She started off strong, warming up with one of her coaches, but shortly after she hit the mound, she lost her mojo. It was like a switch was flipped.
It was so hard to watch.
Eventually, of course, it ended. Many of her teammates ran on to the field to take pictures with the coaches, but my daughter just wanted to go home.
Away from the field, she broke down in tears and finally told us why she was upset. While she was pitching, she heard someone from the other team say, “Wow, that pitcher is bad!”
Now, I am a fixer by nature. It’s in my blood. I want to make things right.
But I could not fix this for my little girl.
I tried. Oh, how I tried. I told her that I was proud of her, that she did a good job, that she was so brave. Through tears, she said: “You’re my mom. You have to say that.”
After she rejected my words of comfort, I surprised myself with a great idea: I told my daughter I would email her coach – her wonderful, kind, patient baseball playing coach – and see if he had any wise words.
The first words out of her mouth when she woke up the next day were: “Did my coach write back?” And, of course, he did. What a gift when special people go even beyond your expectations. Along with some nice words about what she brought to the team and how much she had learned over the season, her coach then said:
As for my experience on the mound throughout my years in baseball (and I guess in life in general), people always have an opinion about your abilities and your performances and some of them are positive and some of them aren’t positive. My advice is to go out and prove the non positive people wrong.
Since then, we have had long talks about kindness. How our words can hurt others. How people can have their own opinions, but we never want our words to make someone else feel bad, like she felt that night. How we pick ourselves up from rough experiences and just keep going.
Life is funny sometimes. It knocks you down but it can also build you up. Mere days later, she was selected to appear in a street performance at Faneuil Hall, successfully throwing balls to an elevated acrobat, receiving thunderous applause from the crowd. Boy, was she beaming when a high school student came over and said, “Does she play softball? I could tell by the way she threw the balls. Great job!”
Today is her first Fall Ball practice. A quick season with opportunities to learn and to grow, to succeed and to fail, and bounce right back, to work hard, to have fun, to keep proving the non positive people wrong.
Stay strong and fierce, my little warrior. And kind.