My five year old wrapped up baseball this past week. My husband coached, as I’ve mentioned, and their team came in second which is a far cry from last year where we came in dead last winning exactly zero games. So progress for both of them!
Last year, Merit was four- which is an outrageously young age to be playing coach pitch baseball if you ask me (but you didn’t)- because they all look like characters from the movie Little Giants. Remember that scene where the littlest of little boys says, “I can’t see with this thing on?” Yea, he’s talking about his helmet and the fact that it makes him look more like a bobble head than it does make him look safe from injury. Well, that was Merit and his team last year. Despite their less than stellar record, Merit actually did show a lot of promise. He only cried at bat twice, and he was actually able to hit the ball relatively consistently. We learned very quickly that if you can get kids to hit balls you’re doing pretty dang well in this age group because none of the kids know a whole lot about fielding or getting outs once the ball is in play.
But dang if it’s not adorable to watch.
So this year we all stepped into this whole baseball thing a little bit older and a little bit wiser and wouldn’t you know it, my five year old little man made the 4-5-6 age group All Stars team! I’m super excited to announce that now we will have practice 4-5 nights a week for the next month! Praise God (said no mom ever).
But in all seriousness, I’m so very proud of him and how he’s really consistently practiced and also how much he’s improved this year. And I’m not just talking about Tom. Merit too! 🙂
But really truly in all seriousness, if I’ve learned one thing this season it’s that pride and ego are not born with us. Pride and ego are developed and nurtured into us, I’m convinced. Come with me for a second…
Yes, it is true that we’re born very ego centric, which is to say that the entire world revolves around us when we’re young. We actually don’t start to unlearn this until we’re about five years old says my friend Sarah who went to school and learned things like that. Have you ever seen a child running full speed in one direction while they’re looking over their shoulder at you? If I had a dollar for every time I’ve had to tell my kids to look where they are going… the reason for this is as a four year old, our kids don’t actually realize that they are not 100% in control of their circumstances. It just doesn’t occur to them that something could interfere with the path their on. A tree? Why would there be a tree where I am running? Yes, we’ve heard that the world steps aside for the person who knows where they’re going, but I don’t think that phrase is meant to be taken literally.
So yea, this is ego-centric behavior. It’s the same thing when a baby cries to get absolutely everything they want and when a two and three year old starts coming apart at the seams when they realize that they can’t just get every last thing that they want. But this isn’t ego. There is a difference. Ego is self-importance, where ego centric is misunderstanding that the world doesn’t revolve around you. One is far more innocent than the other, wouldn’t you say?
This season in baseball, Merit hit a few homers. One was at a critical point in the game. It was the final inning, and the teams were tied, and Merit was up to bat. He hit it so hard and far that he was able to make it all the way around… you guys know what a homer is.
I wasn’t at the game as I was coaching our other son in soccer (ps. three years old is too young to play soccer if you ask me, but you didn’t), but when Merit got over to the soccer field I asked him how the game went and he answered simply that it was fine. I asked if they won and he answered simply yes. Tom had to nudge him by saying, “Merit, tell her what happened at the end.”
“Oh, I hit a home-run,” he answered innocently. Tom had to fill me in on the details that it was not JUST a home-run but a critical, game winning home-run. Merit just kept on licking his piece of candy, completely unfazed by the praise and gravity of the win. There simply was ZERO ego and ZERO pride in that little five year old.
And y’all, this isn’t a brag about my son. This is an observation that amazed me. It actually shocked me a little bit. In the same way that when he struck out- which was often- he understood that it wasn’t the best case scenario, but he certainly didn’t let it get in his head. It didn’t seem that the pressure of it even touched his sense of worth as it often does with these kinds of ‘failures’ when we’re older.
So somewhere along the way, we start to care. Our ego starts to interject. And that means when we do well… when we hit those homers… it makes us feel worthy of praise. And on the contrary, when we strike out, it makes us feel worthless. At what point, at which age, do we start to tie in our actions with our worth? When do we as parents, or as a society, or as a culture start to interject meaning where there was not naturally meaning?
And on that note, can we not deduce that the logical antidote to the struggle over pride and ego would be to detach the things we do from the people we are? Merit isn’t a home-run hitting, All Star baseball player… he’s a five year old boy who is loved fully and worth dying for (because hey… Jesus kind of died for him, right?). And maybe that’s the only thing that dictates our worth at the end of the day?
Although I’m not very good at sports, really at all, I do struggle with ego and pride because I’m a human on the planet. But I have the great privilege of watching my five year old give zero thoughts about how good he is at baseball, or how many times he’s striking out now that he’s in a new level of skill on the All Stars team, and I get that daily reminder (at least for the next month) of how I should act on the days I’m hitting homers and also on the days I’m striking out. I hope you all have the opportunity to find a ‘five year old’ in your life… one who grounds you and reminds you that you’re more than what you do.
I guess it really is true what they say… it’s not whether you win or lose that matters… it’s how you play the game.