Yep. It’s that time of year. Kacey is playing volleyball again. Technically, she never really stopped. The school season ended and the winter team started practicing. They’ve practiced for the last couple of months, and today they had their first tournament of the season.
Kace and I were up before the crack of dawn and heading off to a local college where the tournament was being held. These games start early! The team didn’t look so good today though. They came close a couple of times but just couldn’t put it together. They lost every single game. I thought Kacey looked pretty good though. She loves volleyball and takes it very seriously. She gets frustrated when other players make careless mistakes or miss a play because they’re goofing off. At the level she’s playing, they’re supposed to take it seriously. It is about winning. She knows what she’s supposed to do, and sometimes she has to help others remember what they are supposed to do. It’s the reason she sees so much playing time. And she’s not perfect either and can handle losing now and then. But losing every game? That’s a little hard for her to take. She had some serious pouting going on when it was all said and done. Can’t say as I blame her.
During the games, I sat in the front row of the bleachers and I kept the defensive stats for the coach. Between games, while our girls were sitting or refereeing other teams’ games, I read a book. And I learned something while I read…
You should never sit in the front row of bleachers during a volleyball game, with your head down, and allow yourself to become completely immersed in a book. Why? I’ll tell you why. Sometimes those volleyballs don’t get hit back over to the other side of the net. Sometimes they get hit. Really hard. And the players in the back row – the ones whom you are sitting behind – miss the ball. And sometimes while you’re reading your book, with your head down, completely absorbed, you might faintly hear someone say, “Heads up! Heads up!” But it doesn’t register because you are so lost in the book you are reading. And then you’ll get hit in the head with a volleyball. And OUCH!
And also, after a long day of sitting on metal bleachers. Your butt will hurt. Bring a cushion.
On a more serious note, I found time to talk with some of the other moms. Quite by accident, we started talking about kids. Oldest kids and middle kids and youngest kids. And the topic of college came up. And it just so happens that these two moms I was talking with each have middle children who are very much like Jake. We talked about the struggles with school, the years of battling and pushing, pleading and helping, praying and hoping it will all be okay. They talked about how each of their kids had taken a little break after high school too, like Jake, instead of just jumping right into higher education. One of them has a daughter who graduated with Jake and is just starting school this month, like he is. The other one has a daughter a couple years older. She described her daughter’s struggles throughout her younger years. It was comforting to feel that bond. To know that other parents struggle with a child who struggles. There are other people who have kids who succeed easily and also have kids who have to work so much harder at all those things most take for granted. And the best part was hearing this mom talk about her daughter, the one who sounds so much like Jake, and the way she is making it. She’s going to school and she’s passing and she’s going to make it.
Jake starts community college tomorrow and I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to being worried about him. Brad accused me yesterday of holding Jake’s hand too much. The comment made me angry and all I could do was walk away from him. How do you explain to one kid, to whom everything comes pretty easily, who thinks you just favor and coddle and baby another kid? How do you make him understand how much it hurts to see your child struggle and fail? How do you make him comprehend how many failures, how many looks and words of disappointment it takes to make a kid stop believing in his own ability? He’ll never understand that what looks like babying and hand-holding to him is a form of support I need to give. He doesn’t know what it’s like to not believe in yourself. He doesn’t know how it feels to be so afraid of failing again that you hesitate to even try. It doesn’t occur to him that Jake’s sometimes arrogant attitude is only a way of masking insecurities. It hurts to see Brad holding this against Jake. I just hope some day he will get it, maybe just a little bit. Maybe someday these two boys can actually be friends with one another.