Saturday, June 16, 2012

Pigeon holed

My son came home from football practice that day looking as if the wind had completely been knocked out of his sails. I asked him how practice went and all I got was "fine". I pressed and asked more because my usually talkative son seemed UN-usually quiet. All I got in return was, "I'm just tired."

Now as a mom, I have learned at least a little about my two kids and in my son, "tired" translates to discouraged. (I think he's a lot like me in that way.) Finally, after giving him time to process, I asked again. That's when I really discovered what was wrong.

Since the end of the football season last year, my son has been working toward a goal. He wanted to try for quarterback. Now, I in no way encouraged this - I know there's really only one quarterback position and EVERYONE wants to play it. Still, he was adamant in his goal. He started to work on his "skills". He talked his dad into hanging a hula hoop from a tree in the front yard - yes, it's done wonders for my landscaping....not. He worked on getting his weight down - not that he was overweight to begin with. He'd heard they usually don't pick the bigger guys to play QB. He worked out with weights, ran, and then put on pads and went out EVERY day to throw through that hoop. He begged his father to go run pass-plays with him, and when it became obvious Dad couldn't run as fast as was needed, he invited over a friend. 

Finally, it came time for summer training and he would get a chance to work out with the new coaches and show them what he could do. We had talked often about how he would have to do what was best for the team and if the coaches decided he'd be best at linebacker, or whatever position, he would do what they asked. He just wanted a chance to show them what he could do. He had worked for almost a year, and all he wanted was a chance.

But now he had come home from practice (about two weeks in) and all I saw on his face was weariness. He was discouraged. Finally he told me what had happened. He had been asking for a chance to try for QB, to show them what he could do; but the coaches, (who honestly, I believe, were basing their decision on what they knew best) told him no. As my son put it, "They said I look like a linebacker and I'm built like a linebacker. I'm a linebacker." They weren't even giving him a chance to pick up the ball and try.

As a mama, I was furious! It's not that I wanted my child to play a certain position...shoot, I'd probably have been happier if he'd chosen band - far fewer injuries there! But to tell a child no without even giving them a chance, that just seemed wrong! He had worked so hard. I had watched him run in the cold and the heat and the rain. I had watched him practicing with that ball - he practically slept with it. I had seen the focus in his eyes. All he wanted was a chance.

I also know, mamas DO NOT need to go to the coach. That would be the kiss of death for my son. So I prayed...and I asked a friend who also knew the coach if he'd just ask them to let him show what he could do. If he didn't have what it took, then fine. But at least let him try...they might be pleasantly surprised. (By the way, I did this WITHOUT my son's knowledge. He would have been furious with me! He doesn't read my blog, so there's no real worries he'll see this.)

The next practice came and when my son got home, I could see in his eyes he'd gotten a chance to show what he could do. You'd have thought he'd been offered an NFL contract simple because the coaches had let him pick up the ball and throw. He admitted he wasn't as good as the other QB's, but that they had seen potential in him. The parts he lacked were the parts he'd never been trained in. They were going to let him "throw" a little each practice in addition to his other areas. He had a chance to do what he loved.

As I watched this whole story unfold, I had to ask myself, "Have I been guilty of doing what the coaches had done? Do I, in my 'expertise', pigeonhole people into who or what I think they are? Do I decide based on what I see with my eyes and never really give them a chance? Or do I take the time to look into their eyes and see their heart?" Honestly, I'm not sure of the answer. Sometimes I see beyond, but sometimes I say, "You look like a linebacker, you've always been a linebacker - you're a linebacker." If I am honest, I even do this with myself, never stretching beyond what "others" have said I can do.

I have no idea if my son will actually ever really play the position of quarterback, but I know at least he has had a chance to find out if he could. That is all I hoped for. As a mother, I saw not only what those coaches could see, I saw my son's heart. 

Now, I am faced with the realization that I've got to learn to start seeing others that way as well, like my Father, God, does - not based on outward appearance, but on their hearts. I've got to step beyond my own predetermined view, and look beyond what I think I see.

Pigeon holes are for pigeons....not people. I'm going to have to remember that.

1 Samuel 16:7(b)

New International Version (NIV)
"...The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”


Jennie said...

Okay, let him play a season, then take him to NOLA and tryout for the Saints. I bet he won't hold out for 16 mil annually for 6 yrs. min. JS
It could happen!! ^_^

Kathryn said...

This is something I try to remind myself of every day due to where I work (State Probation & Parole Office). It is refreshing to have someone else remind me in a new way that "every person I see is a unique creation of God". Don't remember where I read that but I wrote it on a sticky note and put it on my window so that I see it when I need it the most. LOL Sadly, sometimes I look right over it and forget but I am starting to have more times that I remember, which is progress, right?

Thanks again for this reminder :)