I could see the resilience and determination in my son’s eyes each time the ball was thrown at him. He stood over the plate, grasping the bat, and willing the ball to connect with it. He wanted it so bad. But each time he missed, I could feel the disconnect between what he wanted to happen and what he knew how to do. I could feel his frustration, his sadness, his disappointment… My Mama heart wanted to run up there and hit the ball for him. But so much of parenthood is keeping yourself grounded when you want to run to them.
My son, Lincoln, wanted to play baseball this year, but we knew it would be hard stepping into this sport as a newbie when the rest of the team had been playing together for years. But he wanted to try anyway. First practice was hard with a lot of missed balls and some down feelings… but my son didn’t give up. He made a vow to practice hard and to get better. His tenacity and bravery is so inspiring, and I think we can all learn so much from him.
Failure is an Important Learning Tool in Resilience
His first practice he missed nearly every ball thrown to him. It was hard. We walked away from the field and I heard him say, “I suck, I suck, I suck,” to himself under his breath. Inside I wanted so badly to be like, “Hey we don’t speak to ourselves like that! The words we use to talk to ourselves are the most important words we have!” But I knew to let him feel his feelings so he didn’t bottle them up and beat himself up later.
We talked about all the times I’ve failed in the past and what I’ve learned from those things. I mean, I’ve learned so much more from my failures than I did from the things I was naturally good at. He said, “I know this will be hard, but I have a feeling that It’ll be worth it. We are a family that does hard things.” And while I can’t promise him that at the end of the season he will be the best player. I know he is building a foundation of work ethic. I know he can be proud he stuck with something and kept his commitment to himself.
Feel Your Feelings and Then Find a Solution
I let him know his feelings were valid and normal. I told him I was proud of him. He went to play with his friends, but that night he asked me to wake him up at 6am so he could workout with me. He said, “I want to look back and know I gave it everything I’ve got this season.” The next day he wanted to make a video of the footage I took of his first practice. In it he counted all the times he missed the ball, and at the end said, “I can’t wait to look back on this at the end of the season and see how much better I get.”
We bought a thing to help with batting practice, and he vowed to hit 100 before quitting, which he did. We played catch and he vowed to throw it to me precisely so I didn’t have to move my mit 5 times in a row before quitting, which he did. He was frustrated by some of that, but he felt his feelings and kept going. He committed to practicing and getting better.
Kids Really Do Learn From Us
A few days later he had his first game and got two runs! At 11-years-old, my son has more determination and resilience than a lot of the adults I know. It’s not easy to do something new in a group where everyone else knows what they are doing except you. Where you might feel embarrassed or like you’re letting others down. It’s not easy to do that as an adult, let alone as a child when fitting in is such a big deal. I feel more proud of him for this than I think I’ll feel if he walked in naturally hitting home runs!
I’ve been telling my kids, “We are a family that does hard things,” for their entire lives. When we are hiking, running together, learning a new sport, etc. There are so many times my kids repeat that back to me now. Not only do they repeat it back to me, they see it in my actions. In how hard I work, in how I handle hard situations, in how I talk to them when they are doing something hard. Our kids are like sponges, and what we do and say to them matters.
Thank you, Lincoln, for being such a great example in learning from failure, feeling your emotions, finding solutions, and sticking with it when things are hard. You’re a rockstar, bud!
Tell me about a time when you didn’t give up on something just because it was hard.
xo Natalie 💗
P.S. I have a similar blog post about learning about courage from my daughter. Find that HERE!