Monthly Archives: June 2014

Tenderheart and other Care Bears

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A little while ago I wrote about my son getting braces. He was nervous, and to make him feel better, I wrote him a story about a kid whose braces saved the day. He thought it was funny. Then I posted about losing the baseball championship. Both of these things were heart breakers to my ten year old, but I’ve already seen the personal growth as a result of these events. Allow me to explain.

Softball season went one week longer than baseball season and kid #2’s team was in the end of the year tournament. It was a single elimination tournament and they were slated to possibly win the championship. But they wound up playing against their toughest team. It was a great game with both teams playing well. Unfortunately, my daughter’s team lost by two runs in the last inning.

She held herself together the whole way home, but once at home, she ran to her room and broke down. I went up to comfort her, but I wasn’t the only perceptive one. Kid #1 observes way more than we give him credit for. Upon arrivingImage at home, he announced he wanted to write a story. Being an author, I never say no to a request like this, so I set him up with a clean Word document on the computer. He typed away for a good hour.

Midway through, I peeked over his shoulder to see what he was writing. It was a story called “The Number One Kid” and it was about his sister playing softball. He’d done exactly what I’d done for him weeks before by writing a story. He knew the sting of loss from only a week before. He knew what his sister was feeling and wanted to alleviate her pain. I never told him to console her. I never told him what to write. He gave it to her and calmed her tears.

That act of kindness and compassion made me incredibly proud to be his mom. And when you’re a proud mom, you make sure the world knows what a great kid you have.  

(The pic is from a while ago, but it’s one of my favorites.)

Learning to be a Loser

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That title caught your attention, didn’t it? This subject has been on my mind for about a week now.

My son’s little league baseball team made it to the championship game. They had a slow start to the beginning of the season. A few losses, many games canceled due to weather, but once we got into full swing, the team began working together and started seeing some wins. The big game was scheduled for Saturday afternoon. All the boys played hard, but they also made a few mistakes. There were some good calls and some bad calls by the umps.  Unfortunately, they couldn’t get ahead enough to pull out a win.

And that broke my ten year old’s heart. “Come on, guys. We can do this!” I heard him shout as he ran to the outfield. They tried, but they couldn’t.

But you know, sometimes it’s good to be a loser. Sure, sure, winning is much more fun, but losing builds more character. Losing makes you think about what you could have done better. Losing humbles you.

We’ve all been there a time or two. Sometimes it may be a small loss; sometimes it’s a huge mistake that threatens to sink the ship. And we have to dig deep to find the strength to move on. Perhaps we’re battered and scared. And perhaps we’ve fallen to our knees because of our own mistakes–bruised and beaten by our own stupidity–but when that happens, we learn so much more than when the ship is sailing smoothly.

I read a post on a church sign the other day. It said, “Smooth seas never made a skillful sailor.” How true. We learn to navigate self awareness, compassion, humble spirits, strengths and weaknesses, and our ulterior motives when we’re forced to look at ourselves in a different light…perhaps a little less perfect than what we first thought.

So, like any mother would, I told my son how proud I was of him. How he did a great job despite the loss. I told him how I understood how much it stinks to lose. And even though that night there were no first place trophies, no ice cream and not even a participation trophy (Don’t get me started on that subject!), my son learned a great lesson.

That sometimes being a loser is the best you can be and every once in a while, that’s even better than winning.

Raising a Tween

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My son got braces last week. It was the beginning of the end for him. All week, he’d been acting weird. Sad. And I couldn’t get him to tell me what was going on until the night he got the braces on. When I tucked him in, he was upset, and my motherly prompting finally got him to open up. 

He was sure everyone at school was going to make fun of him. It was inevitable because only one other kid in his grade has braces. He’d been worrying about it all week. “I don’t think they’ll make fun of you.” I said. “Braces aren’t a big deal like when I was a kid. Besides, when they get their braces in two years, you’ll have perfectly straight teeth.” Then I continued, “You are awesome. Be confident in that.”

It didn’t matter. Nothing I said was going to help. So I prayed with him and tucked him in. 

But my heart was breaking because his heart was breaking. How can I protect him from the mean things kids might say? The truth is, I couldn’t. I could only pray him through the day. The next morning, he left with a secret note tucked into his binder to hopefully encourage him mid day and another reminder from me, “You are awesome. Be confident. Smile big.”

Later that day I had a conversation with my mother. We talked about raising kids. Up until this point it went mostly like this: Feed, clothe, kiss boo boos, lather, rinse, repeat. Oh, and make sure they’re respectful and well behaved. Mostly, I had to take care of the physical stuff. But after this encounter with my son, I was totally unprepared for the emotional raising that is charging in with the tween years. “All you can do is pray confidence into him,” my mother said. 

At the end of school, I picked up the kids and asked how the day went. “Good,” he replied.

“Can I get something a little more detailed?”

“Kaylee said my braces looked awesome. Nick told me I looked better with them. And I made a new friend. Juliana is getting braces soon, and she was asking me all sorts of questions.” 

“So no one teased you?”

“Nope.”

Praise God. Not only for this tiny victory, but for instilling a little more confidence in my son after I relentlessly prayed throughout the day. 

God is good. All the time.