Curt is my youngest. I guess I have more time to write down some of our conversations then I did with the older kids. Here is a blast from the past:
February 5, 2015 –
With 4 older siblings that seem to always have something important to do, Curt has been wishing he was more “busy.” In fact, he often tells me that he needs more to do. He has had community soccer experiences 3 times and flag football once and is taking piano and is in cub scouts. That isn’t enough, I agree.
The other day while I was fixing dinner he said, “I feel like being creative. I want to be an artist.” This struck me as a more specific comment than “I’m bored” and was even more delighted when he walked right past me, apron and all, to fetch the craft box on his own accord. “Whew,” I thought, he is going to attack this urge without my attention. Especially since he is the youngest, his projects so often require my companionship. But that didn’t last long. He dug through the box and not feeling satisfied with the supplies, left the box abandoned on the kitchen table.
At dinner Curt brought up the fact, “I’m not busy enough.”
“Guess what?” I responded. “Dad has been saving a flier to sign you up for baseball!”
“See? It’s right here.” Duncan reached to the counter and proudly waved the form.
“I don’t like baseball.” Curt replied.
“What?! Since when?”
“I want to play tennis.”
“Oh ya.” I remember him suggesting this sport a couple of times recently. I may have dismissed the idea figuring it would be too expensive for the likes of us.
I looked at Duncan and his brothers. At that moment I got up from dinner and moved over to the computer. In less than a couple of minutes I exclaimed, “Wow! There is actually a beginning class at Kiwanis starting tomorrow night!” $39 for 3 weeks, not bad.
“Let’s do it!” Duncan agreed and we quickly worked out the details.
“Tuesdays are going to be so busy for me,” Curt beamed, knowing that he would have to go to cub scouts ready for tennis, which would be directly afterwards.
Sure enough, when I went to pick up Curt early from cubs, he had a t-shirt on under his uniform, a water bottle and his older brother’s tennis racket ready to go.
You know how it is, finding the right court/field on the first day of a team sport, but everything went smoothly. They even had Curt’s name on the roster even though we had signed up just the night before. I sat in that row of outdoor chairs on the rise of grass, feeling special. Here I was a proud tennis parent looking on as my enthusiastic child learned tennis. Coach Jerry was organized and friendly. I didn’t read a book or check my phone during the entire hour because I was trying to memorize the brilliantly appropriate drills and skills he conducted. I thought, “If I pay attention and practice with Curt, I could learn tennis too!” I sat there, thinking how athletic Curt seemed, sure of what a great parent I was and knowing what fun he was having.
When the lesson was over I met him with open arms. “How was it Bud?”
“I don’t like tennis!”
“I am not a tennis player. I am awful!”
“Curt. It was just the first day. I thought you looked great!”
“I am the worst person out there!”
“No sir, Curtis. You looked strong. You were following instructions from your coach.” We began walking to the car.
“We didn’t even play tennis. It was so not anything, that it wasn’t even nothing!”
(I couldn’t talk for a minute, I was trying so hard not to laugh out loud.) I finally managed to respond, “You will play tennis soon…. The drills are to help you know the basics. You need to learn how to hold the racket and handle the ball before you can play a tennis game.”
“I want to quit.”
“We are going to finish the class, Curt. You are not going to quit.” I couldn’t help but keep smiling.
“I am NOT coming back!”
“Curt. (I know when he gets like this, to not argue, but just love him. I put my arm around him.) “Everything is going to be okay, Bud. You’ll see.”
Later that night at dinner Duncan asked expectantly, “Curtis! How was tennis?” His brothers looked cheerfully at Curt, interested in his report. I was on the edge of my seat. What would come out of this kid’s mouth?
“Fine.” I couldn’t believe what I heard. Duncan asked a few more questions that Curt answered with short amiable adjectives before Clark and Adam took over the conversation excited to report about their day.
While tucking Curtis into bed that night I summarized the day, “So, you sure had a BUSY Tuesday.”
“Did you talk to Dad yet?” Curt asked me.
“Honey, you need to talk to your father about tennis. Be honest with him.”
“He will be mad. It was so expensive!”
“No, he won’t be mad,” I said while rubbing his back.
“It would be so much better coming from you.” Curt sounded like a teenager breaking the news of his first car wreck.
“If you don’t like tennis, Curt, you can tell your dad.” It is not like Curtis is a senior in college and changing his major, I thought. “Besides, you are finishing the lessons. You can tell Dad your true feelings anytime.” I blew my nine year old (going on thirty) a kiss and closed the door. I am still smiling as I consider how dramatic Curt is.
SO, Wednesday after school, I rushed home so that Curt and I could practice tennis together over at Marcos de Niza High School. Together we remembered all the drills from beginning to end and then tried our hand at a game. Did you know that tennis is just a whole lot of chasing after the ball? I was exhausted after 15 minutes, but Curt wasn’t. Lobbing that ball as wildly and far as possible and then running like a mad man to retrieve it and do it again is exactly what he loves and did not want to stop.
This morning (Thursday) while he was tying his shoes we talked about our schedule for the afternoon which included his second tennis class. He asked, “Do you think I am ready?”
I laugh just thinking about how seriously he posed this question, as if he was about to go for an Olympic gold after 10 years of grueling practice.
“Well, we practiced everything yesterday. You are athletic and a good listener. I think so, son. Yes, I think you are ready.”
“I think so too, Mom, but maybe I am not as ready as the other people under my age.” Oh my land! Why are humans so hard on themselves?
“We are often our own worst critic, Curtis. The other kids are probably thinking they don’t look as capable as they want to be too. That is called being self-conscious. Don’t worry anymore. You are going to be great.”
“I DID tell the coach that I was left handed and then he asked me again, ‘Are you sure you are left-handed?’ and I said ‘Ya.’”
“See? That is called being sure of yourself. Confident. That is what you want to be. Plus, you will have an advantage as a left handed tennis player because you will approach the ball differently and take your opponent by surprise. So, be proud that you are left handed.”
Curt seemed to believe me. Now, if I can just take my own advice. We’ll see how practice goes today.