A few weeks ago, my family traveled over the mountains to take part in Hoop Fest. It happens to be the biggest 3-on-3 basketball tournament in the world – that’s so awesome! Over 7,000 teams, 27,865 players, spanning 42 city blocks. That’s huge! (And so is this picture, haha)
Summer hadn’t arrived in Seattle yet. So we were looking forward to sunshine, warm weather and basketball. We got all of that. And so much more.
The boys learned the value of teamwork and perseverance. The boys strengthened their bonds with their friends and teammates. They won and lost. And most importantly, they had a lot of fun!
We learned a lot as well. And I learned that my kids are awesome! Okay, I may be slightly biased here. My boys made me proud with the way that they played. They played hard and they played fair. Which is far more than I can say about some of our opponents. But that is another story for another day. We hung out with friends, made new ones and ate some yummy food.
And I learned how hard it is to console a child who is heartbroken. A child who loves to play so much that he is in tears. Not because he lost. Losing is a part of life and that is something that they learn each time they step out on the court – sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. He was in tears because he felt that he let his team down. That it was his fault that they lost.
In those quiet, tear-filled moments, I tried my best to reassure him that it wasn’t his fault. I told him how awesome he played, and that he was a good little basketball player. I told him that they didn’t lose because of him, that basketball is a team sport.
What I should have really told him is this, “I love watching you play!” I knew I should have said this. At this moment I experienced a Mama Fail. I read this earlier this year and it really resonated with me. We all know that words have power – make a lasting impact. Sitting on the sidelines of many games I have seen and heard many things from fellow parents. Most of them good. But there are times when, what may seem to them as helpful and supportive, is in fact the opposite. (This happened just this past weekend). You can see a child’s spirit being crushed a little bit at a time. And it is heartbreaking.
But who knew that this little string of words can be so powerful. I will never know if saying these words would have made the crying stop. Or dull the pain of defeat. All I know is that next time I will be ready to say them. Because I know, in time, he will forget the losses, he might even forget the wins, he will learn to handle these moments differently. If I say these words often enough, what he will never forget is that he makes me happy, win or lose. And that I am proud of him, win or lose. That he is enough.
We all need to hear that every now and then.
Look out Spokane because we will be back for more next year!