New parent is so in love with Young Boy. He’s beautiful, his heart, his hugs, his kisses, his mind. Parent stands in wonder as Young Boy runs across the school field dodging the tagger. Left, right, hopping over stones and grass divots. Contorting his torso to avoid the stretched out finger tips desperately seeking to claim a piece of his shirt. Young Boy is the last one. He’s won! The other kids run over and congratulate him with high fives and screams of victory. New Parent’s heart swells, pride that New Parent hasn’t felt in a long time rushes in like a familiar but long forgotten friend. New Parent scoops up boy and makes his way out to the car. Today, says New Parent to Young Boy, we are going to sign you up for sports! You are a winner!
Athlete Boy is almost a foot taller than the rest of the kids, already equipped with muscle tone kids many years older are still struggling to achieve. Athlete Boy is fast, and hard to stop. Athlete Boy needs to be on this team. Athlete Boy can help Coach win, can bring coach to the championship that has been narrowly missed several years in a row. Athlete Boy is better than Coach’s Boy. Coach’s Boy is small, doesn’t pay attention much but love to play. Coach has lost patience with Coach’s Boy. He wants to put his attention onto Athlete Boy instead. He wants more kids like Athlete Boy. He stops paying attention to Average Boy and looks to form a team full of Athlete Boys. He signs up for more games, more competitions, keeps the Athlete boys that bring wins.
Athlete Boy loves the game, loves the attention, but knows that all of the eggs are in his basket. If he fails, the team fails. Athlete boy takes the brunt of jealousy from Average Boy who wishes he could get the same attention and playing time. Average Boy always seems to be annoyed with him. He doesn’t know why he can’t be treated the same as the rest of the team. Why are his standards so much higher to reach than the Average Boy. Athlete Boy seems to perform easily, loses his drive to practice or improve, begins to feel as though he doesn’t need to learn anymore. He is already a winner, what more can he learn?
Coach’s Boy tries hard, but he is always letting coach down. When he tries harder he makes more mistakes. Sometimes he stops trying at all because -what’s the point? Coach’s Boy hates the ride home. He is always being compared to Athlete Boy, who is so much bigger than the other kids and seems to do everything right. Sometimes Coach’s Boy thinks that Coach wishes that Athlete Boy was his boy instead of him. Sometimes he hates sports.
Average Boy shows up for practice day in and day out. He learns and gets better but never quite measures up to the standards set by Athlete Boy. He loves his friends and he loves the game, but sometimes wonders if there’s much point in trying so hard since he can’t ever seem to be a winner. Coach usually ignores him, except for when he messes up, or forgets to pass to Athlete Boy. Average boy has a lot of potential but doesn’t seem to have anyone to believe in him, so he lives Average.
Wise Grandparent watches Average Boy from the stands. Watching Average boy makes Wise Grandparent feel very proud, but also very sad. Wise Grandparent remembers when he was New Parent and pushed his Young Boy in sports. Young Boy was very good, but nothing was ever good enough. Young Boy needed to be better so that he could keep being a winner. Young Boy was missing chances every time he made a mistake. Grandparent shook his head remembering how important getting noticed by important people became, how he had felt ashamed when Young Boy hadn’t performed his best. Wise Grandparent watched Average Boy make mistakes and Wise Grandparent smiled. Wise Grandparent knew those mistakes would help him become a better person. He knew that Average Boy would grow up to be whatever Average Boy wanted to be. Wise Grandparent knew that sports may not be in his future, but that these games and how Average Boy learned from them would give him opportunities to win in life, far beyond sports. Wise Grandparent looked over at New parent and patted him on the back, and told him – Look at Young Boy, see him make mistakes and keep playing. See how he smiles, how he loves, how he works hard, how he supports his teammates, how he learns to fail and then rise up again. See, New Parent, how he is a winner. See how no matter what, if we believe in him – he cannot fail?