Coulter was turning two and for weeks we had practiced.
We would pretend to open a gift. We would practice showing appreciation. We would even pretend to open a horrible gift.
Or a vegetable.
And we would feign excitement.
The big day came and his Uncle Gregory was there. The box is big.
He unwraps. It’s a basketball goal. Coulter can hardly breathe. He just stares.
I keep waiting. You know, for the manners that we have faithfully been working on.
I nudge him.
“Coulter, honey, what do you say?”
Then at a decibel level to shake the foundation of the earth we stood upon, he screamed,
Which was as close to a “Thank you, Uncle Gregory,” as one could get.
That whole summer, he would shoot and shoot and shoot.
And miss and miss and miss.
And each time and I will never forget it, he would say.
He has this amazing spirit. He keeps going and he keeps trying and he says, watch one more time and one more time and yes, one more time and he knows he’s almost there.
And he knows he will get there.
Last week he was playing Y baseball and he got ‘out’. And it was hard. And I saw his face crumple and bless his heart, he is my son and I breathe tears and they spring easy and often and what chance does he have? But I look at him.
I’m in the dug-out. You know, cause I’m a super cool mom-coach and by coach I mean, I’m wearing a 4-sizes too-small team t-shirt, holding a team roster telling kids when to bat and they yell at me, “Who’s next? Who’s next? Who’s after that?”
And I can’t take it. I mean seriously, it’s not that hard. There are two spots.
And that on-deck guy.
And that is all you need to know. And it’s possible that I’m not really considered a super cool mom-coach, but Coulter is glad to see me and his blue eyes deep and longing stare hard into mom and I give him the look.
The look that says, “Chin up, young person.”
“Chin up and don’t you cry.”
Even though what I really wanted to do was scoop him up and take him home.
Home. Away from ‘outs’ and back to ‘almosts’.
But he’s at that age. Where you learn.
That you give your best. You try your best.
Still gets you out.
And good grief, yes, I know—
This is 2nd grade Y-ball, but after that it was football and soccer and there were these super talented hispanic little ninja boys who were quick and well, what’s another word for quick, and they just kept running and scoring and running and scoring and you couldn’t tell who was a coach and who was a parent because they were all screaming from the sidelines, “Andale, Pablo! Andale! ” (And I’m not being disrespectful. They were like little running ninjas and the grown-ups were shouting Andale, Pablo!.”
Which reminds me of how I always know if my Dad’s speaking to a Hispanic person on the phone because for some reason his thick southern drawl takes on this hispanic accent and he starts speaking in clipped English and he’s not being disrespectful either.
He has no clue that he’s doing it. It’s like his way of bonding or something.
Yes, I get that it’s 2nd grade. I get that he’s 7. Unless we’re at the Y and he’s alone in the gym and then for sure he’s 8. You know, just for the record.
But it feels like we’re at a jumping-on place. And there’s that moment when you click the buckle and you realize that it’s too late to jump off. And there’s that click…..click…..click as you ascend and you know without a shadow of a doubt that you don’t have the stomach for what’s coming.
And I don’t have the stomach for what’s coming which was one of many reasons that I didn’t eat with Coulter and Emma Claire tonight, but I did pray with them and as they blessed the food, they both gave thanks and I think that appreciation practice is finally paying off and then Emma Claire ended with, “And God I’m excited about soccer tonight and if you could help us win, that would be great.”
And I don’t know if we are supposed to pray for sports victories, (especially for 4 year olds) but now that we’re on this ride, rest assured that I will be.
Praying that Coulter never gives up and keeps showing up and that I can ride the coat-tails of his unfailing enthusiasm and his belief that we’re “Almost There.”
Because the truth is, we’ve had a lot of misses. And outs.