There comes a time in every parent's life when you realize that you just have to sit back and let your child figure out how to fix it on their own. (I know! I didn't believe that when other parents told me that, but its true! We can't fix everything.) I'm not talking about physical hurts, or broken windows. I'm talking about that point in your child's life when they first really discover disappointment in the outcome of something important to them.
Last night was Jock's first football game of his high school career. He's a freshman this year, and he's been so looking forward to this season! See, for the last few years, he's been somewhat of a star on his city teams. In fairness, he really is quite good. I just don't think he realized that there are other boys out there equally as good (shocking, but possibly true!). And that these other boys possibly (maybe) come with a (slightly) better attitude towards being placed in a position that they didn't (primarily) want to play. So it has been somewhat of a bone of contention for him that he's not getting the position he really wanted. However, he's slowly coming to realize that as long as he gets time on the field, he has a chance to prove that he has the potential to be a star again.
Still doesn't change the fact that last night sucked eggs, in his opinion.
He only got on the field for a couple of plays, and then the game was postponed due to a wicked lightning storm (ahhh.... monsoon season in Arizona), thereby not giving him a chance to do something spectacular during his first appearance on the high school field. (And you know that he would have gone on to score five touchdowns, and then recovered 3 fumbles and get 8 interceptions while on defense as well? Uh huh... that's exactly how it would have happened!) We no longer had the opportunity for him to capture school-wide glory, and end up with the prettiest girl in school (but on that one, I'm really ok.... 'cuz I am soooo not ready for the whole estrogen attack that is going to happen this year!) hanging on his every word.
So what did this normally level-headed, fairly even tempered child of mine do with the rest of his evening? He went home and sulked. Pouted. Brooded. Hid in his room (under the guise of doing homework, but I know he was just hiding) and only came out to declare that he wasn't hungry and didn't want dinner. Then he slunk back into his hole again. Refusing to talk to me.
All of which just broke my heart. This was something I couldn't fix. I can no longer go to the coaches and demand equal playing time for my son. (I've never had to do that, you see.... but I've witnessed other parents demanding that of Coach on the little junior teams he's coached over the years). I can't force them to give my Jock any more playing time than they do. I can't even convince him any longer that he's certainly better than everyone else, and the coaches must just be playing favorites: he knows on a logical, rational level that these other boys are just as good as they appear to be. And they deserve their spots on that field. I can't make up new rules so that everyone gets to play what they want. We've reached the big time, folks. And as much as it makes my mother's heart cry, I.Can't.Make.It.Better. Not anymore. This is a battle he'll have to learn to fight on his own. Oh, Coach and I can give a bit of direction (Really, you need to just prove why you should have been the one on that field. Or this one.... If you thought you gave 100%, you'll just need to give more. Honestly, its all useless filler that he already knows in himself, but it makes us feel marginally useful to actually say it), but we can't fix it for him. And it kills me. So I'll sit back, bite my tongue, and watch this play out the way it needs to for his own growth, while my heart bleeds a bit more with every disappointment he faces.
And I'll still go in every night when he goes to bed, with a hug and an "I love you", and just hold him while his heart breaks and he says "I just don't get it, Mom. How are they better than me?", with his head on my shoulder. (Because no one has to be a grown up at bedtime, and that's the few moments of the day when its ok to let your mom know you still need her.) And he'll let me hug him a bit tighter, tell him "It'll work out somehow, baby, you'll see", and then get a rare opportunity to actually tuck him in again.
But when I'm alone again after he's gone to sleep..... I'll still hope someone sprains an ankle tomorrow at practice.