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photos by Ban Avenue Photography
If you follow us on Instagram chances are you've seen that Bear is playing t-ball again this year and we are loving it. By "we" I mostly mean Zach and I who stay laughing pretty much the entire game, but Bear is enjoying this season, too. Last year, he had just turned 4 and it was a bit over his head- he was the kid spinning in circles and picking flowers in the outfield. But this year it seems something clicked and he gets it- he's actually trying his hardest and it makes my mama heart so proud. We weren't going to sign him up at all since he didn't really care for it last year but he came home from school one day saying he wanted to play, so here we are again. Bear is on the Angels this year and it's MUCH less stressful than the league he played in last year- only 2 practices and 6 games. Last year his team practiced 3-4 times a week and it was, in my opinion, too much for kids that young. The coaches are great on the Angels, the kids are sweet, and we couldn't be happier. There's only one little thing bothering me...
There are 12 kids on the team, and as I stated above, 6 total games. After each game, the coaches award 1 player who they think did a good job the game ball. After both the first and second game of not getting awarded the game ball, I could tell Bear's spirits were crushed. I praised him on his play after the games to which he responded with tears in his eyes, "But I didn't do good. I didn't get the game ball". It killed me. I hated that no matter what I said, in Bear's mind his performance was based solely on whether or not he was awarded that stupid game ball. It didn't matter how hard he tried or how much he'd improved, he was going to be down on himself if he didn't get the ball. I know he's not the only kid to put such importance on the game ball- I watched as other kids walked out of the huddle with chins down, disappointment on their faces after trying their very hardest during the game only to not receive the one piece of recognition they all desire: the coveted game ball.
The Angels had a game tonight and much to my surprise, Bear was awarded the game ball. Going into the game, I was prepared to email the head coach this week, offering to donate 6 more game balls so each kid can get one (I still plan on doing so). I'll never forget the look on Bear's face as he came running up to me after the game, cheeks red as cherries and a smile the size of a small state. "I got the game ball, Mommy!" followed by, "I knew I was gonna get it today" (such confidence). Beaming at my boy, I watched as the other kids on the team walked by and congratulated Bear sweetly, silently wishing they were holding the prize. My heart broke a little bit knowing they were feeling what I'd watched Bear feel the past several games. And I realized something.
In life, we put too much emphasis on what others award us. We play our hearts out, put it all on the line, do our very best, only to let our happiness depend upon what someone else will deem prize worthy. The co-worker in the cubicle next to us gets the raise, and we feel slided. A friend takes a birthday trip and invites someone else, and we feel left out. Too often, we want so desperately to win the approval of others that we forget what truly matters. Our happiness shouldn't rely on what someone else thinks of us, it should rely on what we feel inside. When Bear had a great t-ball game, got good hits, fielded well, and had fun with his friends, he should've walked off that field knowing that regardless of who the coach praised, he did his best. And for that, he should hold his head high. He's only 5, so that's a tough concept to grasp but as adults, it's a little easier. When we stop trying to play for someone else, to please someone else, is when we can really sit back and enjoy the ride. Life is too short to worry about game balls....and you can go to Academy and buy your own, anyway. The moment we stop playing for someone else and start playing for ourselves is when life really gets good. Win or lose, the real victory lies within us for ever having the strength to play in the first place.
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