In between overdoing it

Posts tagged ‘heart’

A Lesson in Heart: Why the Relative Age Effect is Wrong

Contrary to what some writers and sports analyst think being the smallest and youngest does not guarantee failure in a persons athletic career. Lessons are learned by team sports which go far beyond physicality, follow a child through their entire life and set them up for success.

My son is super active and in constant motion. We figured sports would help put that energy to use. We really didn’t give that much thought to the myriad of lessons learned through team sports. As we approach the end of the season I am reflecting on the amazing change and growth that team sports has brought in my child.

My son actually began with T-Ball and had an instant love for the sport. He took to it easy and made friends quickly. However, he is literally the youngest…I mean the absolute youngest player in the entire league. Due to when the division cut offs fall and when his birthday is. Much like school, in sports he is the youngest one out there.

Age is nothing but a number

If you have ready Malcolm Gladwell’s book “Outliers, ” then you might have thought, much like myself, that having the youngest smallest child in sports would be to set him up for failure in life.  According to NY Magazine, one of Mr. Gladwell’s points is “…an initial advantage attributable to age gets turned into a more profound advantage over time.” This theory has become known as the Relative Age Effect and in my view is  bull.

Me and my husband initially considered theory for a long time and actually thought about holding my son back in school to ensure he was bigger, stronger and more mature when he began. However, intellectually he was ready and decided we would be doing his a disservice by holding him back.

When we signed him up for T-Ball, this idea came back to haunt me. Would he be the smallest? What if he is picked on? What if he struggle? How it effect his emotionally and scar him for life? Ok I probably was a bit over dramatic. But aside from the scarring him for life part all of that has happened and it is not a bad thing.

Season one and two

My son was the smallest. In being smaller and younger he did not have the motor coordination, at first, that the other players did. I watched in agony as he would miss ball after ball. However, my agony was not his. He was having a blast. He loved his coaches and they loved him as well. My son was learning what it was like to be part of a team and how to support your teammates.

More importantly he was learning resiliency. How to keep trying even if you might not get the results you want the first time. Each practice he tried his best. Never gave up and enjoyed every minute. By the end of the first year he was actually hitting the ball!

Season three

The second year brought new challenges. The size different between my son and the other kids were much more apparent. Likewise the skill level difference between him and other kids varied greatly. He fell somewhere in the middle, with older, bigger kids having more skill and motor control then he had. To my surprise there were older kids that were similar in stature to him struggled throughout the season.

Also, due to the cut off he was no longer in T-Ball. He was moved up (too soon in my opinion) to Coach Pitch. My son was scared he wouldn’t be able to do it and almost choose not the play. However, after meeting the coaches and other kids he wanted to try.

Sometimes he went game after game without a hit. Without a play or so much as touching the ball. There were a few times I turned to mush as he cried that he wanted to give up. The difference is he didn’t. He asked me and his Dad to practice with him more. (which we did.) He started to pay better attention during practice. With hands on his knees he was “baseball ready,” instead of throwing his mitt around the outfield.

While it was heartbreaking to see him leave the batter’s box dejected and sad, there was a lesson in this as well. It was a lesson about playing with Heart. Heart, Will, Determination, Fortitude, Resilience, call it what you will. It is what winning teams are made from.

You can see it time and time again when the underdog, underestimated teams blowing away their opponents. The 1980 US Hockey team, the 2004 Red Sox, and most recently the World Series Champion Chicago Cubs.  In most cases it is not purely, skill, strength or physical prowess that does the job. It is Heart and that is what my son was learning.

His abilities to field, hit and pay attention long enough to get through an inning were finally starting to come on line. By the end of the season he was hitting pretty regularly and had a good grasp of the game. Plus, he understood what it felt like to overcome a struggle.

Season Four

This past season was yet another lesson. Most of his teammate were almost a full 2 years older then he is. Many were now in travel ball league. This meant they had skills far beyond my son. I mean these kids were turning double plays! He had just learned how to hit. However, what surprised me was the social struggle. It seemed like none of the kids knew where they fit with each other. The age and skills varied so greatly. The older kids were not very nice. With the idea they were better players they acted like jerks to the younger kids.

My son, who pretty much gets along with everyone,  had a really hard time with this. It was the first time he was encountering bigger kids who were being bullies. He doesn’t really find them in school because of the anti-bullying efforts, but here on the ball field they still exist. I had a big issue with this and was ready to pull him out of the league.

However my husband stopped me. He reminded me that he NEEDS to learn how to deal with them. IF he doesn’t learn these lessons now he will have a harder time in life when he encounters bullies in the real world.  Boy was it tough to watch these kids but I knew he was right. he had to learn to stick up for himself. If things got bad I could step in. But as painfully hard as it was I had to let him fight his own battle. Uggg!

He was right, my son did learn how to stand up for himself. The effort in overcoming his fear also brought with it a new confidence in his abilities. I watched in amazement as he no only became a solid hitter he actually began to hit it into the outfield. Along with this his fielding also improved. With the encouragement and knowledge of incredible coaches he has grown into a strong player and a respected teammate.

Lessons for life

Being part of a team sport has brought along its challenges but the lessons learned and triumphs have been so worth it. These lessons learned through sports are what will make him a success, not the month he was born and when his birthday falls.  So Mr. Gladwell you are dead wrong that the smaller, younger kids are set up to fail due to age disadvantages that follow them through life.

You didn’t take into account all of the people like coaches, players, friends and family who help to mold them. Mr. Gladwell you also did not consider the many athlete’s who were not the ideal physical specimen, who might not have natural talent but still achieve greatness through hard work, will and determination.

Yes, my son is still the youngest and his is still one of the smallest but like many underestimated people he has Heart and that is what you need to win in the game of life.

 

 

Yes, Mommy Can Play With You Now

don't forget to play “Mommy can you play with me now,” my daughter asked for the fourth time. For the forth time I tell her,” just let mommy finish with this, ” or “right after I’m done with this.” But recently, those times of promised play never came. For several months now I have been blowing off my children’s request to play. It was not intentional. I was wrapped up in other things that, at the time, seemed important. I figured I would find the time later, but each day was eaten up by “other things,” and play time never came.

Feeling exasperated and overly busy, I came to recognize a trend in myself. On line I found an arictle that discussed ways to tell if you are too busy. One in particular stood out to me.

“You are too busy when… those closest to you have stopped asking for your time.”

That is when it hit me. I have not been hearing the requests to play from my children anymore. As this concept dawned on me I was overcome with shame for what I have done. My children where my priority. They were where I wanted to be all the time. They were my life. Not the computer, not the dishes, not my cake business. I was wasting my precious time with them being consumed by other much less important things. When did I get to the point that there pleas to play fell on deaf ears? This had to change.

My daughter is now 8 years old. There is only a few more years where she will even want to play with me and here I was squandering that time with her. I had to fix this now. So here are three things I have done to be more aware of my childrens needs and be less busy with distractions.

  1. Get Up Early – I use to do this last year, but sleep got the better of me. A few missed early morning wake-ups become a half asleep, un-restful enterprise of tossing and turning in the hopes of getting an extra five minutes. I decided to be more intentional about getting up and getting things accomplished before my children are up, so that I would have more time to spend with them in a less hurried and distracted way
  2. Schedule In Playtime – Set a timer if you must, but make an appointment with your children. A date night, a mommy and me day, a play date, but schedule in this time so it becomes just as important (or more so.) as everything else in your day
  3. Stop! Put down the phone, get off the computer and listen to what they are saying –This is where the majority of my shame is coming from. My kids are only seeing part of my face hidden behind a computer screen. They are only staring at the top of my head, while I answer another text. I am distracted. They are not getting my full attention…and they know it.

Going forward when I get home from work, the phone goes off; the laptop gets put away until they are in bed. Whatever emergency might take place there are other ways I can be reached and the world will not stop spinning if I don’t answer that email until tomorrow. It can wait. My children cannot. They are my heart that lives outside my body and they deserve my time, energy and presence more than anyone or anything else.

Help Me Creating a Community

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I’m taking today as a shameless self-promotion day. I had an idea yesterday and spoke about it on my late night periscope broadcast. For the past few weeks I have been part of an amazing Facebook group called Scope Mama’s. This group came out of the blue, pushed me out of my comfort zone and inspired me to get in front of the camera.

Since being a part of this group, I have been able to interact with some incredible, inspiring souls. In only a few weeks I feel like these woman have become a source of strength and support for me. Also it has been an absolute joy to watch with each broadcast these people transform, make personal discovers and become more in touch with there own uniqueness.

I have made some personal discoveries as well. Through this and other Facebook groups I have been involved in, I have discovered that I love being a cheerleader. When I see them succeed I feel that success whole-heartedly along with them. When they have struggles, I want to offer support and encouragement as if they were sitting right next to me. I feel bonded in a weird way with these women that I have never met.

Then it came to me. This is what I want. This community of support and encouragement. I want that. I feel in my heart that I want to create that type of community. A place where people can challenge themselves and each other, find support through struggles, find joy in each other triumphs. Push each other. Encourage. 285246-o

For the Scope Mama’s group it I offered encouragement to use Periscope. Beachbody accountability groups offer support to lose weight and get fit. I want to create a group that offers those things and more.

Since the theme of this blog is “the journey to balance and moderation.” I want to create a community that shares in this journey, whatever it mean to them. I want to create a community where people can find support when they are out of balance and find strength and encouragement when they lack moderation. We can share best practices, tips and ideas in food, family, finance and feelings. But most of all we can support and encourage each other. Because I feel it in my heart, this is what I should be doing. It is where I can best serve you. And that is really why this blog exists. The blog however, is mostly my feelings, my views, my best practices. I want to create the exchange of ideas that can happen in an active Facebook group.

If you would like to be part of this community “Like” the Inbetweenmoderation.com Facebook page. While there respond to the question I will post in coming days, comment on previous blog posts or add your own ideas. Help me create the community I dream this can be.

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