For the last three summers my youngest son and I have played quite a bit of tennis. At first, I didn’t enforce all the rules with him. If he hit the ball within the doubles line, I still played it, and even counted it as a point of I missed the ball. I also let him fault on his serves as many times as necessary without counting points against him. In those earlier games, even with all the extras I let him have, I still won most of the time. Over the years, that fact has changed. I now lose most of the games, and he now plays by all the rules for singles tennis. But even mister “I-think-I’m-awesome” has his bad days.
Last Saturday, I had the game of a lifetime. Every serve, every hit–backhand or forehand–landed on my son’s side of the court. I literally swept the first two sets without him scoring a point. By the third set, my son was good and mad.
“I’m giving up! this is stupid.”
Well, folks, you’ve already heard my recent feelings on poor attitudes, so I didn’t let it slide. “Really? Remember this is what you ask for on the weekends. Why I don’t sleep in on Saturdays, because you always ask me to wake you up to play.”
“So? It’s not fun to lose.”
“What are you talking about? You’ve won most of the games this summer, which means I’ve lost most of the games this summer. And yet, I’ve still had fun. Why do you think that is?”
“Because your a mom and you have to.”
I laughed and shook my head. “Okay, maybe being older helps me see a little clearer, but that’s not why I still had fun. I enjoy spending time with you. I enjoy smacking the crap out of the ball and the heart racing experience of when you send it flying back towards me. I’ve learned to love and appreciate every moment, because I don’t know when my body isn’t going to be able to do it anymore, so I’m soaking up the experience now.
Son, wins and losses come with every sport you play. To have winner you must have a loser, but when it becomes your sole focus for doing a sport you suck the joy right out of it. So, what’s it gonna be? Because if you’re giving up, I’d rather go home. It’s no fun when someone gives up and let’s another win. I’ve never done that to you, you shouldn’t do it to me.”
The pep talk did the trick, he came back playing like the little monster he is. But I still beat him. If you’re thinking, well that was mean, you’re wrong. He knows every win he’s ever gotten from me he’s earned.