Most of the other players started playing basketball a few years earlier than my son, but that didn’t stop him from trying out for travel basketball. He went at it with the optimism and social angst that every 11 year old goes out for a team. Two nights of two hour practices with evaluators in the stands. At the end of week, no news. No news is in this case is bad news. He did not make the team.
Like most parents, I thought that my heart would crack right open. I did everything to keep my composure as he cried and worse still he had to face his friends in school the next day. He made some excuses (we let him have most that were plausible) and he critiqued others who had made the team (again we asked him to be as objective as possible but agreed with some of his points). As expected the “friends” were ruthless.
Now the hard part, the real lesson about failing, this could go one of two ways: 1)he never picks up a basketball again or 2) we could convince him that with some hard work, he could try again. Once we were through the normal “I hate basketball, and I’m never playing again”, we were able to convince him that maybe he just needed more experience. “Don’t ever let anyone tell you who you are”, I said, if you want to be a basketball player than we will find a way for that to happen.
The beauty of our overscheduled children’s lives is there is a team for just about anyone and everyone that wants to play something. I took to the internet. I googled every local basketball team I could find and behold there was a team approximately 20 miles away that needed players. My son, considered himself a “free agent” and reported to his friends that he would be playing travel basketball this season, just for another town. After the season he signed up for clinics and found a great pick up summer program. Most importantly, he dribbled the cover off of a basketball.
Fast forward to this year and tryouts come around again. I was more nervous this year than last. What would I tell him now, if he didn’t make it? Hard work is supposed to pay off ~ that’s what we told him~ he will never believe us again. My son on the other hand seemed confident and happy, safe in the knowledge that he had other options if this one didn’t work out. Perhaps he learned the lesson of one door closing and another opening, or he learned that life is full of options if you look for them, or maybe what didn’t kill him, did make him stronger. Whatever the cliché, I know that despite the outcome he learned not to give up and nobody was telling him he was not a basketball player.
This year there was news, an email that said Welcome to the Team!