The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Monday, March 19, 2012

"Will you always love me?"

Saturday, my son played his first soccer game of the season. He was nervous, and I reminded him of his very first judo competition, two years ago. He was so frightened, and I knew that what frightened him most was failing to make me proud.

"What happens if I lose?" he said.

"Then we go for ice cream."

"What if I win?"

"Then you win. And we go for ice cream."

He paused. "What do I do tomorrow?"

He was only six then. So small and vulnerable, so desperate for my approval. I knew that this would be one of the defining moments of his life, if I could handle it properly.

"This is all I want from you," I said. "I want you to focus. To relax. To do the very best you can do. To act with everything you have. Then, if you win, be polite. And if you lose, shake his hand. If you need more work, we'll do it. But tomorrow? Play hard. This is the show."

His voice was a whisper. "And you'll love me, no matter what?"

"No matter what."

I kissed my boy, and turned out the light. In the morning, he came downstairs looking very serious. "I've decided what I'm going to do," he said.


"I'm going to be like a scorpion. I'm going to be very still. Then choose my moment...and strike."

I loved it. He went out there that day and, in his first tournament, tore his opponents a new one. Politely, of course. And brought home first place.


And Saturday? The coaches said he played better than ever. More blocks, more shots, more focus, more clarity. And his team won 5-0. Ouch!

That's my boy. But more than everything else, he needed...he NEEDS to know that I love him. That he is not risking that love. Then, he is free to perform.


And this is what you must do. You must come FROM love, rather than trying to EARN "lovability" through performance. Every morning, connect with your heart. Create an image of the child you were, and remember that YOU need that unquestioning love as much as that six year old imp I call "son."

You are now your own parent. Do your damned job!

No comments: