I find it hard sometimes not to project myself onto my kids. I don't want them to think they need to think, feel or do a certain way because that's the way I do it, or that's the way I've always seen it done. Or since I'm not courageous enough, then maybe they shouldn't be. Or because something makes me hesitate, they should certainly fear it too. As long as it's good, well, then, it's good. I struggle to let them be. I struggle to let them do it how they want. I struggle to let them have all the control.
Two nights ago Gabriel, Evelyn and I attended Adam and Anthony's baseball game. It was a moment of difficulty for me because Patrick was traveling. We had team snack. I hadn't made dinner. I had to assist in the dressing of the boys in their "gear" and those socks are such stinkers. Plus the belt. Plus the cleats. And you know how the story goes with loading up 4 kids in the car with chairs and drinks and snacks and helmets and bats and gloves. You get the picture.
Well, right before we left Gabriel asked if he could use my phone. What?! Why on earth? I'm in the middle of a big project right now. I'm getting people ready. We don't have time to make a phone call. He wanted to call his dad. So, of course, I said OK.
"Hey dad, I wanted to know if I could be catcher tonight for my brothers' game? Do you think the coach will let me?" I hear his dad hesitate. He was on speaker phone. "Sure, buddy. All you need to do is ask. He may or may not need help, but you can ask." Great, I thought to myself. I'm going to be stuck in the midst of an awkward moment where the 7 year old gets told he cannot help. And I felt sure he couldn't. Could he really stop and catch all those balls? Could he throw them back that far to the pitchers mound? I don't think so. I know for certain he has never done this before.
We got there and immediately Gabriel runs to the coach. "I can catch!" he says. The coach didn't understand at all and in the midst of the chaos said, "Great, buddy! Glad you are working on your skills." (1st embarrassing/disappointing moment accomplished). He walked back to me, eyes welled up. "Buddy, he just didn't understand you, so let me give you some better words," I said. My heart was hurting as I threw a new recommendation his way. Am I setting him up for yet another failed attempt? Just say, "Hey Coach, if you need someone to catch or chase runaway balls, I'm happy to help with that." Well, he marched his little butt right back to that coach with a confident strut and used my exact words. The coach hesitated a minute, looked for me, I gave him a nod and he said, "Sure, buddy, that would be a great help!"
My son then proceeded to stop almost every ball that was pitched. If he didn't stop them, he ran as fast as those skinny legs would carry him and captured them. When having to throw balls back to the coach on the pitchers mound, his throws were strong, they were precise and the coach always caught them. For such a small act of service, for such a random moment in little league history, for such a lack of confidence from his mom, this was a HUGE moment for my Gabriel or at least for his mom. Afterward, the coach came to me telling me of how impressed he was.
I learned something about him two nights ago. He is not me. His confidence far exceeds mine. His joy to help far exceeds mine. His determination is admired by me. And to think that I was so close to pulling out one of my "mom talks" about how he's probably too young to be catcher and how the coach is all set with helpers, but what a great thought for some other time. It was a humbling moment to say the least.
I have a new prayer now. That they become everything God has intended them to be, not to ever stay in the box which I want to place them in. To let them be them. To allow every and any moment, as small as it may be, be swept up by their confidence and to let them run with it.