He talked me into introducing him to racquetball this week. I found it laughable that I’d be able to teach him a game that I never knew how to play well. I hadn’t even played it badly since college. That’s nearly twenty years, fyi. I’m on that ‘getting old’ track nowadays.
My boy sees it so differently. He was excited for a full week for this. He counted days until his sister’s next gymnastics class. He dressed with this event in mind when he got ready for school. When I’d asked him that morning why he was wearing an undershirt beneath his t-shirt, he explained that he’d be more comfortable in the tank top during racquetball so now all he had to do was take off his t-shirt to be ready to play.
He was ready.
Each time it came up, I warned him that I wasn’t very good at it but I’d try. I didn’t want him to expect too much. I didn’t want to disappoint him.
He could not have cared less. That’s a contagious thing and by the time we got onto that well-worn court, I was inching closer to that same state of mind. A freeing change, by all means.
We had a blast. It was SO MUCH FUN. We both just tried. We celebrated the times it played out in our favor. We talked through some of the times it didn’t.
What hit me afterward was how I could have spent the past week looking forward to this. I could have joined in my son’s excitement. I could have rejected focusing on something negative that was not in my power to change (in this case, my past experience).
The things we sacrifice on the altar of self-doubt. Of fear. Of unfounded expectations.
My boy did not care about my skill level when he asked me to play the game together. I felt compelled to answer an expectation he never even held. I needed to soften the blow of disappointment when he discovered how little I could do.
Whether or not I could teach him the game of racquetball, I did have options of what else to teach him. Confidence or doubt. Whether the good should eclipse the imperfection, or vice versa. Believing in strength or highlighting weakness.
When he asked me at the end if we could play again next week, I didn’t miss a beat in answering yes. Nor did I hesitate to declare that I would be excited for it until then.
Lesson learned, this time around.