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I am special because ________.

” 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.

Not Your Usual Bouncer

Ready…go!

Each set off
at his own pace
with her own rhythm
in their own style.

tennis-balls-bouncing
Bounce.. bounce…. bounce. bounce…boun..ce bounceee.. bou..bbounce

Tennis balls,
in their joy and merriment,
leaping and playing,
of their own accord.

Until
bounce..bounce.bounce..bounce..bounce.bounce..bounce.
Became
bounce.bounce.bounce.bounce.

They were finished, then.
Fallen in,
Rank and file,
Orderly. Procession.

Oh, the sound.
Calling me,
To sameness, calm,
quiet, appeasement, rhythm.

So easy to slip in,
under the waves,
along for the ride,
go with the flow.

There was another sound.
Quiet, but clear.
Of opportunity beckoning,
between the bouncing,
between the bouncing.

Growing louder,
more insistent.
Am I the only one who hears it?

Close ranks! Tighten up!
and…Bbbbbbbbounce.
Rapid fire. Precision.
Poise. Focus.

Deliberately different.
Not disruptive,
Distinct.

It was a competition, after all.
There was a Prize.

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