Over the weekend, my youngest son lost the first game of his baseball playoffs. This came as a crushing blow to the small boy who had dedicated his whole summer to becoming a better player. He spent countless hours practicing pitches with his dad, searching the Internet for batting tips and grabbing the latest edition of Sport’s Illustrated to find every story and photo of baseball players. At the age of 8, he was already starting his day by watching ESPN and every Lego creation he made had something to do with a ball field.
The kid was obsessed.
Which is why the loss during the first round of playoffs was so hard to take—for all of us. I looked at his hot, sad face and I melted–I wanted him to know that this wasn’t the end of his baseball career, but just the beginning. “But, this was the biggest thing in my life. I mean, I’m 8 and I’ve never had a bigger day,” he said through tears as we loaded his gear into the trunk. Wow.
My immediate parent reaction was to go through a litany of stories of how this really isn’t the biggest thing in his life, but I stopped myself and realized that in his young world, this really was the biggest day of his life. He was playing on a real baseball field, with a real scoreboard and a real announcer saying his name every time he got up to bat. This was bigger than when we got our dog, bigger than his cousin getting married, bigger than his good friend’s mom having a baby. This was a very big deal–and a very big disappointment that hurt just like those very big disappointments I have faced in my adult life.
So, we did what we had to do—we took him for ice cream and let him stay out past dark playing with his friends. It was over ice cream that he shared with me once again how this was the biggest day of his life. “Except maybe when I got an iPod,” he whispered. “That was a big day, getting an iPod. Hey, do you think I can get a bigger iPod for my birthday? And, what kind of party should I have?”
And just like that, the very bad ending to his biggest day ever was filled with hope for a brighter future of even bigger moments and opportunities. We should all be so lucky to bounce back so quickly.