” I am special because … I am really good at playing soccer.”
Saw this today. A mother’s shout-out from her teacher-parent conference, complete with an image of her young child, kindergarten age, with a quotation bubble completing this phrase. His smiling face hovered atop a cutout body, colored with red and green crayolas.
It is no surprise that this child has skills advanced for his age. His parents are dynamite soccer players. From the cradle, he has been immersed in this game. It’s a great game. Wonderful to teach children how to use their bodies well, and when they’re older, how to work with teammates, how to take direction from coaches, how to focus on what’s important and not on all that chatter from the sidelines.
But little one, though today you may excel at playing soccer compared to your teammates or classmates or age mates, there will come a day when, by comparison, you may fall short. And on that day I hope you will remember what was true long before this day. I hope you hear it from your teacher, your coaches, your parents — even and especially if they’re also you’re coaches: you are special before you ever take the field.
I know they feel this way, but perhaps in the muddle of midget soccer things have gotten confused or at least confounded. You have connected yourself with capability and so you wear your confidence proudly. You’re rewarded for your accomplishment and it becomes hard to distinguish yourself from it. It’s who you are; it’s what you do; it’s what you love to do, what you’re meant to do, where you’re meant to be, who you’re meant to be; it’s what you’re made for.
How I would love this for you, if only….
If only, instead of “I am special because I can…,” you could begin with “I am special because I am …..” Unique in all the world. The only me that will ever be. Nothing compares with that.
Be bold, little one, but first, be you.
I am transported back to the elementary school playground. Hour upon hour we played 4-square on that black top. Except on icy days when inch-thick plates of ice prevented access. On those days, with the heel of my snow boots, I pounded and pounded until a few inches and then a few more gave way. Others join in the assault. Occasionally, a large sheet gives way and a shout of triumph rings out.
The school bell sounds. Man, that was a lot of work!
Next recess, we play.
That’s as far as I got on my letter. I don’t remember the last time I wrote a letter to Santa. But this year I have pledged to do one thing each day that a kid would do. Of course a kid would write a letter to Santa, so here it sits on my desk, its red and green letters staring back at me.
Why is it so difficult to write to Santa?
- because I am not a kid? Maybe, but there are things on my Christmas list… why not write them?
- because what I want doesn’t come from a store? Nice try, but that’s rationalization. Can’t I still ask?
- because I don’t know where to begin. Now we’re getting somewhere.
The traditional, “I have been good this year” doesn’t cover all the bases. Can I lie to Santa? If he’s keeping a naughty and nice list, surely he knows all the not too nice things I did or said or didn’t do and lied about. So…
I have tried to be good this year but you know, it’s hard.
Stop stalling and get to the LIST!! What’s the harm in asking? But… isn’t asking selfish? Oh my goodness, what kid ever thinks about THAT? My adult-ness is disabling. I hope Santa understands.
So let’s ease into this… (after you bring the stuff for the kids and the dogs and my husband – because I want them to be happy – and after you bring stuff for people who really need stuff… if there is some extra room in your bag and it won’t weigh down your sleigh or be an undue burden for your tiny reindeer, could you…)
Oh my goodness how I avoid this conversation. Asking for what I really want, even if I am not sure I believe Santa can give it to me, is nearly impossible. Until I get started. Then it all tumbles out. I’m already at #8 before I realize that this list is a prayer. Item upon item are things I dearly, dearly long for. Specific things. And just for a moment it doesn’t seem selfish at all, it seems real, and I am not ashamed to ask.
#8. Bring me courage and nerve to speak up for these kids, even if it means risking my reputation.
Apparently, we need to ask for what we want so we can see what we really need.
I guess that about does it for this year, Santa. You know, you’re easier to talk to than the guy who could actually bring me these things. Why is that? Why, when I was a kid, was this so easy?
Santa, by any chance do you know Jesus? If you do, can you pass along my list?
Thank you and Merry Christmas!
Now. Send or don’t send? Oh, this adult-ness is gonna take some time to get over!