Saturday, September 28, 2013

Ouch, my heart

This week we have anticipated the start of 3rd and 4th grade basketball. We jumped on the bandwagon very late, as we missed the deadline and weren't even sure if we wanted it, until i heard from my friend--the coach--that they had a few openings on the team, if Ruby did want to play.

We himmed and hahhed, over it. It was a bit more to sign up then we had liked, but we also know that if there was ever a time that Ruby would enjoy it it was with this team, with her favorite friend and with this coach- who just so happens to be one of my favorite friends.  As of Wednesday, we were officially "in". We committed.

And truly as i went to bed on Thursday night, i was nervous. Like, maybe this is too big of a commitment, maybe it was too much money? What am i doing?!  Its as if i was the third grader--but whats new.

Friday came and we had a super headache trying to commit to our co-ed softball team and knowing how important that is to us, and being able to be at Ruby's first practice.  Long story short, even though i had dreamed about getting to her first practice, i had to go to softball--due to necessity.(or so i though)

But i did bring her there with Jeromy and got to see her shoot around and play and have a great time. It truly made my heart happy. I knew i made the right decision.  She was gonna love it.

As Ruby and Jeromy got to the game, she told me all about practice and her eyes had stars in them. She was ecstatic!  (and so was i)

She informed me that "i was a good softball coach, but that Laurie was a really good basketball coach."   She even told me that she should have taught me how to play, cause she's a really good teacher. And i was alright with that. I agree 110% .

We went to bed excited and anxious for our double header in the morning.

9 o'clock game time came and Ruby was pumped. Practice in the gym for a bit and she as thrilled. Jump ball time came and her face changed. I saw it the minute it happened.

Not only was she nervous, but she was scared.

But i just kept smiling and clapping, hoping i could fake her out. Trick her into being okay.

After they ran down the court one time, she was too scared

"No," i whispered. Cause i had seen this before. I had only seen her crack under the pressure one other time. And wouldn't ya know, it was when i tried to sign her up for a four day little basketball thing in St. Francis.   She made it about an hour into those practices before running across the court, trying to stifle a cry, until she reached me and just grabbed on to me and cried. Begging me to leave and never make her come back.

It was awful.

And here it was, that same face. That same frozen stance.

"Oh, no." I whispered again, looking at my Dad, who was sitting with me.

Ruby proceeded to cover her ears and run up and down the court. And when i say "run" i mean, slowly walk. It was painful.

Eventually she came over to my side and cried, telling me she didn't want to do this. She didn't understand it.

I knew the pace was too quick for her. SHe didn't understand the game. But what could i do now?

And in that moment, honestly, every thing i have ever done as a parent, i second guessed.  I suddenly thought i created this and i had ruined my kids. I wanted to push her and demand she play, but i also wanted to cry at the very same moment that she was.

It was so terrible. I felt sick. I felt nervous. I felt sad. I felt like a total failure. And i wanted to scoop her up into my arms and walk her out of that gym, and never return.

But i couldn't. I just had to say "Keep it up. You're doing great. Just do your best."  As she tearfully walked back to the game--already in process.

I was praying for the quarter to be over so she could just be out. Please, Lord let her sit out this next quarter.

And she did sit out.  And she sat down on the bench by the coaches husband, Jon, and i can say in all honesty, when you have a child scared and a mother who feels at her breaking point and protective there is no one, and i mean no one that i would have trusted my daughter with, in her delicate little state, to care for and encourage her--like Mr. Jon Klippenes. I only made it through the game because she sat with him. I watched as he talked to her--even when she wouldn't acknowledge it--I watched as he continued to talk to her and wouldn't ya know, within a few minutes, i saw her crack a smile.

And oh, how that smile was my saving grace.  I was literally breaking inside as i watched her attempt to get through this.

I contemplated taking her out, why would i force her to finish? I just wouldn't. No way.  We just got to get through these two games and then we will just get our money back and never return to a gym again.  We are a family that plays on fields. Nice, slow paced softball fiends.

Lord, get me to the end of this.

Well, six minutes later, and the quarter was over, and there she was again, out on the court.

Ugh, this hurt.

She cried again, coming over to me--pleading silently.

I just said "get out there and do your best. You can do it. You don't talk to me you talk to your coach."

When she finally started guarding someone (even when she was supposed to be playing offense) i felt like maybe i could get through the game.  That was until a ball missed the hoop and barely bumperd her in the back....

And here came the tears. I could see she was fighting them. As she ran. But suddenly her "defense" stopped and she continued to just nervously grab her ear. Completely stopping. Standing on one side of the court and not moving--even as the game went on around her.

It was painful.

But Laurie, continued on, encouraging. Being Laurie. Being perfect.

And i continued to trust, that if anyone can get her through this, its her.

And wouldn't ya know. The buzzer finally rang. And the game was over.

Ruby came and sat on my lap and i tried to encourage her and tell her that i didn't care if she did terribly, but i didn't want to see her give up. Please, don't have a bad attitude. Its better to shoot in the wrong hoop because you tried, then to quit because you had a bad attitude.  I recognized that attitude- i knew where it came from.

She seemed to chipper up about 10% as we waited the few minutes for the next game to start.

This next team--praise Jesus--came in looking a lot smaller than the aggressive team we had just played.  Oh, please let this team be weak.

Back to the bench Ruby went, nervously sucking on that waterbottle.  Game time came and she was out the first quarter, Hallelujah. I had 6 minutes to relax and just watch the other girls play.

Now our team was picking up by this point and we were the aggressors.  I continued to watch Ruby, as she watched the game. Praying that she was picking it up.

Buzzer rang and we started the next quarter. Ruby came out and Laurie matched them up and reminded them who to guard.

Ruby did a good job guarding her girl. Even when she was supposed to be the one shooting the ball, instead, Ruby still guarded her girl--who was in turn guarding Ruby as well. But i didn't care. She seemed almost happy and i saw her smile a time or two and that was all i cared about.

A few times the ball came directly to Ruby, and she ducked, avoiding it. One time Molly actually passed it to Ruby, but she twisted away--avoiding it.

Oh boy.

If only she would touch the ball. Feel it. I know that would change things.

Ruby played two quarters in a row and by the second quarter. As she got comfortable with the little role she was playing, i suddenly saw her rushing to her "spot" on the offense. Though she definitely wasn't calling for the ball. I saw her guard her player--even when she was the one bringing the ball down.  And i saw her smile, and sweat, and try.

I guess words can't express it. 

But this day. These two games. And this girl. Almost killed me.

The amount of anguish i felt inside seeing my brave girl continue to try, even when she was completely confused and afraid. Made me happy--and oh, so sad.

It was a learning experience for me today as well.

And it was a hard one. I looked deep within myself and saw all my shortcomings and failures, coming right to the surface. And it was ugly.

I second guessed life today.  I wavered.

I knew i couldn't be the one to change Ruby. I trusted that we prayed before the game and that God heard us. And i put all of my faith into Laurie's amazing ability to do anything she puts her mind to.

After the game, Ruby was on cloud nine, talking like this tough basketball playing girl. I just laughed.

If she only knew.

I was so proud of my girl today. She did it. She faced her fear and she made it through. With the constant encouragement and understanding and positive feedback from her coach, Ruby grabbed the ball and shot at the end of the game. And then she got a pass, and she dribbled.  And in the deepest part of my heart, i am so thankful to Laurie and Jon.

Their light shines bright--and its hard to miss. And its hard not to feel good when you have them on your side. And for that, i am eternally grateful.

One week down.....only 648 to go...Uffda. Baby steps.

But as i type this post, you know where my girl is???  Shes outside on the wet driveway, waiting for me with her new basketball. Ready to play.

We just may get there.

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