Protect Your Kids...

Monday, April 25, 2011

The measure of a man...

J9 shares her interpretation of "The measure of a man" on a great blog piece.

Wooden said that the measure of a man..."is the size of the things that get him upset." When I was coaching a kid a few years ago, he fell apart more often than the other kids - even though he succeeded more often. So to help him get over the hump, we also added, "...and how quickly he recovers from it!"

So now the phrase we recite is this:

The measure of a man is the size of the things that get him upset...and how quickly he recovers from it!

Then, one of my BALL coaches, Jen Solano (also a BALL storyteller) used the phrase's flavor as part of an inspiration for the basis of saying "don't disrespect the boy that ..." for the same application - when a kid falls apart for not succeeding. Here's how she introduced it to me:

I was very fortunate to have her coach my son, Mac, in baseball one summer. Jen is a former collegiate softball catcher and, as a result, has the "catcher's mentality" when she coaches:

1) Take charge,
2) Be decisive and confident,
and because baseball is a fluid sport,
3) Make instant decisions on-the-fly as the situation dictates.

She also has a fierce competitive spirit, but a genuine compassion for the kids. Sometimes it's a delicate balance. Jen, however, seems to intuitively know when and where to say the right things to the right kids.

Which brings me to my son.

Mac has always been a step behind the other boys his age in baseball because, in part, of the RSV virus that he caught as a baby. It affected his body so that the left side is weaker and reacts more slowly than the right side. This is evidenced by his running: whenever he runs, you can see the left side of his body react more slowly than the right side. So I taught him to hit left handed so his right hand could be his "power hand" on his swing. That gives him more power, but less chance of hitting the ball consistently because the left side now becomes the hand that refines the bat's barrel angle through the swing. So Mac's swing is truly "hit or miss".

Anyway, at one practice, he really hit the ball well and actually hit it over Coach Jen's head in right field. He held his head up high for the next 20 minutes until it was his turn to hit again. This time, it didn't turn out as well. He couldn't even hit a foul ball. He hung his head, kicked the dirt, and generally started into giving himself a "pity party".

Coach Jen's response?

From deep right field, he hears the following: "MAC BROWNE, you hold your head up high RIGHT NOW!!! Don't you DARE disrespect the player that hit that ball over my head!"

It was magic. In almost an instant, Mac's attitude changed. For the rest of the practice, he was noticeably more confident. And since that practice, my wife and I (as parents) remind Mac about never disrespecting the young man he has come to be. The young man he is meant to be. And I will never forget the moment when a wonderful teacher taught a son and his dad about keeping a positive attitude and the importance of getting back up whenever we fall down.

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