You've forgotten this isn't about your ego; this is about the children.
My little boy sat down at lunch today. It was his sister's turn to say the prayer, but he begged her to let him take this one.
"Pleeeeease?" he pleaded. "I have something really important to ask God."
She graciously consented.
I watched perplexed as he closed his bright blue eyes, folded his sweet little hands under his chin, and bowed his messy blonde head. And he prayed.
"Dear God, please, if there is any way, I pray that you don't make us play the mean team again today. Maybe you could make it rain really hard again so we don't have to. And ... "
But wait. Before I get to his "and," you should know that he's seven. He still sleeps curled up with a threadbare stuffed dog and still whispers, "I love you more than all the drops of water in the ocean" when I cuddle him.
He still calls me "Mommy" and kisses me in front of his friends. He still plays with toy cars and loves dinosaurs.
He's just a little boy. And he's innocent enough to still believe that people are inherently good and kind.
At least for now.
You see, he's seven. He just wants to play ball, have fun, and learn new skills. And it's your job as his coach to make those things happen. Is that too much too ask? I don't think so.
He just wants to play ball.
Unfortunately, somewhere along the way, you got your priorities mixed up. Somehow, you can no longer see this seven-year-old kid staring up at you with adoring, trusting eyes because you're too busy focusing on the scoreboard.
Look, belittling women and children doesn't make you a man.
Throwing tantrums doesn't make you a grown-up.
Threatening physical harm doesn't make you tough.
And winning doesn't make you a winner.
I think you've forgotten.
You've forgotten this isn't about your ego; it's about the children.
You've forgotten that this isn't about winning; this is about their hearts.
It's time for a priority check. This isn't about you, and if it is, it's time to lay down your glove and move on.
Last night when you yelled at the umpire, the other coaches, and anyone else who would listen, in front of my son — my son who is trying to figure out how this great big world works, and how "grown-ups" act — you taught him that sometimes grownups are mean and spiteful for the sake of spite.
Last night when you belittled parents, players, and the league in front of my son — my son who looks up to coaches as role models — you taught him it was OK to act like a fool for fool's sake.
Last night when you cheated to win, you planted seeds of bitterness in his pure, little heart.
And you made a seven-year-old cry because you forgot to check your ego, your pride, and your personal vendettas at the door.
And today when I told him we were playing your team again, he no longer wanted to play ball. So today, because of you, I taught my son some hard lessons.
I taught him that being a coach, actor, or athlete doesn't make you an instant role model.
I taught him that from the deepest wells of a man's heart overflows his words. A stagnant well produces bitter water and a pure well, sweet water; therefore, by his words is a man's true heart revealed.
I taught him that sometimes people will hurt us, and that it's not our fault; they're angry and bitter with the world.
I taught him that nobody has the right to steal the joy that God placed in our hearts.
I taught him that sometimes we have to walk away with grace.
And most importantly, I taught him that he must pray for you and forgive you, because you know not what you do.
And he whispered, "I forgive him, Mommy."
I chose not to take him to his last game tonight. He prayed to God not to go, and I'm the angel God sent to protect the heart of that little boy. Instead, we went to church and surrounded ourselves with hope, joy, and life.
Someday, he will inevitably learn that some people are inherently cruel and hateful. But thank goodness, he still believes that all people are inherently good and kind.
For now, no thanks to you.
But I just want you to know that you hurt him — a seven-year-old boy. You need to know.
You hurt his heart enough that he closed his bright blue eyes, folded his sweet little hands under his chin, and bowed his messy blonde head. And prayed a heartbreaking prayer.
"Dear God, please, if there is any way, I pray that you don't make us play the mean team again today. Maybe you could make it rain really hard again so we don't have to. And ...
And God, could you please, please teach grownups how to be kind to one another?"
Perhaps, in this case, instead of a child learning something from a grown-up, we grown-ups could all learn a little something from the innocent heart of a seven-year-old boy.
The Mom of a Little Boy Who Just Wanted to Play Ball
This article was originally published at mybestlaidplans.net. Reprinted with permission from the author.