Sunday, April 20, 2008

aiming high

Michael's parents visited us from New York this weekend. After a few visits to the park behind our home, they saw how much John enjoys watching the boys play basketball there. We have to restrain him from joining the game. He doesn't realize that he is too young, too small, to play with them. Yesterday, John's grandparents bought him a small basketball backboard and hoop. It came with a miniature basketball. So now he has his very own court in our backyard. (Thanks, Michael and Stephanie!)

This afternoon, John and Michael went to the park and took John's little basketball. John threw it in the air, perhaps three feet up, towards the big hoop. But then he wanted to play with a real basketball instead (which is practically as big as he is). Later this afternoon, we went over there again and a kind man gave John a tennis ball. John tried to make a basket with it, too. We also saw some men playing soccer, and John really wanted to join them.

When John was a little baby, it was sometimes scary that he didn't know his own limitations. I was afraid he would hurt himself when he tried to leap off of the changing table or a bed. But now, it is almost heartbreaking to see his innocence and optimism, and to know that one day he will be hurt by the truth that he cannot do everything he wants to do.

Some day, he will fail, and he will learn to be more hesitant, less sure of himself. I want for John to have a realistic sense of his own strengths and abilities, but I don't want him to get discouraged. I won't tell him "You can do anything you put your mind to do" because it's untrue and would lead him to blame himself if he fails at something. But John's lack of self-doubt or insecurity makes me wonder if we can do more than we think we can do. More specifically, I wonder how often I limit myself by preconceived ideas about what I am capable of.

Occasionally, the boys at the basketball court do share the ball with John (and he repays their kindness by wandering off with the ball!). I want to have wisdom to encourage John to keep aiming high but also to trust God with the outcome. Of course, he will learn the most from my example.


Leigh said...

Interesting and thought provoking post!

angie said...

I witness something like this once a week when I take my girls to gymnastics class. The very small girls (6-8 year olds) line up against the wall waiting for their class to start. While they wait, the big girls (teenagers, I'm sure) are working on their routines and sharpening their skills on the equipment placed around the room. Those small girls have the biggest eyes while watching the bigger girls do their thing. You can almost see the dreams generating in their heads. I often wonder exactly what the smaller set is thinking. And, even more telling, what do the bigger girls think of the younger girls?

Good post, as usual!

MI said...

I have noticed that John doesn't throw the ball up at the basket anymore, but seems to be focusing on what he can do. Perhaps kids make their own adjustments more than we give them credit for, which takes some of the burden off us parents.