While going through some boxes this past weekend my son and I came across this participation trophy I had received after a wildly unremarkable season of little league softball. I loved that team, and was grateful to rediscover this little gem. That was the last year I was any good at that game as I soon began flinching and turning away when the ball was hit to me. Game over.
Mind you, this trophy hadn't been given to me to coddle my feelings, or to make me believe I was something I wasn't. That softball team wasn't viewed as some Youth Barometer that measured my character and/or predicted my potential for success in life. It was just a game, and this was just a trophy. (THAT part of America I wouldn't mind bringing back.)
I was a nostalgic girl, so I kept the trophy....and eventually forgot all about it.
Fast forward to this past Saturday when that tiny gold man was dug out of a box like it was a fossil trapped in the earth - irrefutable evidence of an era long gone. When I showed my son the trophy I saw his mind jusssssst barely comprehend that I hadn't always been a grown-up. When he wrapped his hands around the marble base ("I'm holding it with both hands, Mommy...") I felt him connect with the feisty, fashion-challenged, dirty-faced girl I was in my little league years.
I shared with him how hard losing had been for me, and still can be - even today. He said he sure knows how that feels. I told him I always hit the ball straight to the short stop every damn time - maddening! I confessed that I remember feeling surprised that I wasn't a better player. I blew his mind when I told him my family lived in Naples, Italy at the time, and we played in ballparks built in the crater of an extinct volcano (Carney Park!). My son listened to my every word as he stared into the gold batter's eyes.
And then he asked if he could put that silly trophy in in his room. "Of course you can!" He put it in the spot next to his favorite light sabre - the highest honor my little jedi could bestow on that bat-wielding trinket.
I wish you guys could see the way he looks at it. My kid is not the most demonstrative child on the block, but it's so clear that, in his mind, the engraving on that participation trophy reads "#1 Mom."
So, yeah. You just never know what those participation trophies might mean to your child. Or to theirs.
That's my piece, and that's my peace. Thank you so much for taking the time to read my silly words. It means the world to me. Carry on...
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