I have three boys who all play baseball.
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Anyway, if you're not new here, you already know that there are wins and there are losses and we handle these things to the best of our ability which often times frankly, is not how Jesus would handle these things. We try to learn lessons and we try to highlight the positive and we try to be all stoic and such.
Having three different children with three different personalities means that some handle losing better than others. There just so happens to be one who in general handles losing slightly less well than the other two. We're going to just hypothetically call him, ummmm . . .Kyle. This is not a hard and fast rule. It's just that in general with Kyle there is less poker face and more my dog just got run over by a truck face. Less standing straight, head held high and more my shoulders weigh 257 pounds and my neck has ceased to do its job of holding up my head. Now in full disclosure, this hypothetical kid named Kyle comes by it honestly.
Exhibit A: His hypothetical dad, Steve, told me that when he was about six years old and was losing the family bowling game, he crawled under the seats at the bowling alley and would not come out.
Exhibit B: Just about a week ago, my family and I were enjoying a Saturday morning breakfast at Panera where I was reading this USA Today article which was all lovey-dovey about the Texas Aggies, the arch rivals of my beloved and beleaguered Texas Longhorns.
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In the article MY President, the one who I worked to get re-elected and because of whom I met my husband, said that he and Barbara are "Aggies to the core" which made me feel like someone stabbed me right in my burnt orange, Republican heart. It also mentioned that some
I almost lost my mind right there in front of my children, my husband and many other families innocently enjoying their Saturday morning bagels. It was kinda like this:
Exhibit C: Later that evening my Texas Longhorns played like Pee Wee football players and lost to Ole Miss and I did something like this:
So, poor Kyle. The apple doesn't fall from the tree. Either tree, apparently.
But there is a redemptive story here to tell. The very day after my tantrum(s), Kyle had a double header. His baseball team happened to be playing Gavin Rupp's team. Gavin, who you know, if you're not new here, was a courageous 13 year old baseball player from our area who passed away this summer after a battle with brain cancer. Gavin's dad, Chris, still coaches Gavin's buddies and it turns out that the team has changed its name to the Warriors and the players wear Gavin's #15 on their sleeves.
I know, right? Take a deep breath and try not to cry. It's still just too much to take.
The Warriors beat our team in both games. Our kids played hard. They stayed with them in Game One, but in Game Two, the wheels came off. The Warriors were good. They hit like crazy and we couldn't come back. The score was something like a gazillion to three. I braced myself as I climbed into the car with he who does not fall far from the tree.
Tree: Tough game, right, bud? Yikes.
Apple: Yea. (Shrugs shoulders, looks me in straight in the eye, does not have his face pressed against the car window, no pouting to be seen.)
We drive for awhile and I wait for the groaning and sighing to start.
Apple: Mom, you know that kid, George, the catcher? We just could not figure that kid out, you know. He had like five hits off of us.
Tree: Yea. He was good, huh?
Apple: Yea . . .You know, Wilson told me that George is Gavin's best friend.
Tree: Oh, really?
Apple: Yea. (suppressing a smile, eyebrows raise)
Tree: Hmmm. Pretty solid player, that kid.
Apple: Yep. (the beginnings of a grin)
Tree: and . . . he's got some friends in high places, huh?
Kyle looked out the window then and a smile as wise as it was wide spread across his twelve year old face.
I might be making a leap here. It's possible that his smile didn't quite hold all the lessons that I think it did. But, I know this. He wasn't pouting. He wasn't thinking only of himself. He wasn't going to spend the rest of the drive home brooding over the loss.
I think my son just knew some things that day that he might not have really known before and I'm not going to assume that he'll remember them every game going forward. But, for that day maybe he knew that everything in life is about perspective. Maybe he knew that losing a baseball game is not the most terrible thing that can happen to a twelve year old boy. Maybe he knew that we can hold the people we lose safe in our hearts and that true friendships can endure for all of eternity. Maybe he knew that strength can come from something greater than ourselves. Maybe at some level he knew the truth of Hebrews 12:1:
". . .since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us."
I had braced myself and had thought that I would be looking at sadness that day, but instead I looked for some beauty.
I think my boy and I found some.
Hey, Gavin, how 'bout them apples? Happy birthday, buddy.