Sunday, June 13, 2010

Taming Wild Horses

I guess if you'd ask me to give you a list of character traits I'd like to see in my children, I am sure you'd see confidence somewhere on that list.  But, there's a fine line between confidence and cocky and I have at least 2 kids who jump back and forth over that line like it's a jumprope.  

The first child would be Shelby.  She's been playing soccer since she was 3 years old,  Why I put her in soccer... I'll never know. It's not like she exibited some kind of great ball skill.  She'd not shown any significant interest in a soccer ball or anything like that.  Coming from a sports family though, I thought it was protocol. 

I signed her up and put her out on that big ol' soccer field.  She'd run around that field and look the part.  Her eyes would be all intense and her face determined.  But her skill level and her understanding of the game... lacking would be putting it mildly!  During one of her first games, as she was desperately looking the part of a soccer player, huddled with the rest of the children but making no attempt to kick the ball, we yelled, "Shelby!!  KICK THE BALL!"  She stopped in the middle of the field, looked straight as us and yelled back, "I ALREADY DID!"  

She had looked at us like we were idiots.  She had done her part.  She had kicked the ball.  Once.  And, as far as she was concerned, once per game was enough.

Every year when fall would roll around she'd insist on signing up for soccer.  I was always torn.  How do I tell her that soccer's not her gift?  And, would it be ok if I told her that she ran like she had cement blocks on her feet?  Because both of those things would be true.  

I'd sign her up anyway and let her go at it.  Once when she was probably about 7, she came up to me and she said, "Mom, you know how I am the best player on my soccer team?"  I about spewed the drink in my mouth across the room.  She really truly believed that.

Man, could she "look" like a soccer player.  She really needed to be on a stage and not on a field.  But I have always been afraid that once I put her on the stage, I'd never see her again... so, we're still waiting on that.  

Once when she was doing one of her better acting jobs on the field, Paul commented to the dad next to him, "If she only had as much skill as confidence."  That dad spoke some wise words, he said, "You can always teach the skill.  You can't teach confidence."

And, so Shelby continues to play soccer.  And, I have to say, I am so, so proud of her.  She has never quit trying and she is super teachable.  And, 9 years after she started playing...she has become a really good little soccer player.

And, then there's Jackson.  Our motto for Jackson is:  It's easier to tame a wild horse than it is to raise a dead one.

In a sense, he's the complete opposite of Shelby.  Jackson is ridiculously athletic.  He's a gifted athlete and pretty much whatever he takes on, he excels.  Soccer, football, basketball, diving, swimming, snowboarding, rollerblading and on and on and on... His body... well, it's not normal.  During his physical at the doctor last month, the doctor was looking over his body and she turned to me and said, "He's solid muscle."  

You'd think we dropped him off at the gym everyday and made him workout.

Saturday as Jackson and Paul were watching the United States play England in the World Cup.  A USA player sprinted for the ball and Paul said, "That guy is blazing fast!"  

Jackson said, "Is he as fast as I am dad?"

To which Paul replied, "Uh... buddy, he's probably faster than you."

Then Jackson said, "But is he as fast as I am when I run barefoot?"

And, he's as serious as a heart attack.  He thinks he is faster than World Cup soccer players.

Geesh!  I wish I had that kind of confidence.  My sole activity right now is Zumba and I am so uncomfortable in my own skin doing all those hip gyrations that if I could do Zumba in a closet and still see the instructor.... I totally would!

So... if apples don't fall do far from trees... I'll let you figure out where they get this character trait.

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