Ben. The love of my life, my joy, my sweetness… my rules Nazi. My son is 10-years-old with rigid thinking. Let me do my best to describe what rigid thinking means. Simply put, in Ben’s world, there is only black and white, right and wrong, fair and unfair. Gray area, flexibility, greater understanding that there is a bigger picture when decisions are made… what’s that?
Looking for a judge to sit on the Supreme Court, Ben’s your man. Need a lawyer to defend the Constitution of the United States of America? I know a guy. However, when it comes to playing any sport… well, let me explain. Organized sports require referees to make calls on a variety of plays. That’s their job. We have all had moments of agreeing and disagreeing with those calls. Because we understand that the referees are not robots, we move on despite our feelings. Moving on is very difficult for Ben. He can’t get passed it and if the call, he disagrees with, is against him… Jesus come quickly. Backyard games… don’t get me started.
Ben had a basketball game today. On the way to the game, we reviewed the coping skills that Ben has been working on. I am pretty sure that everything he says is lip service to my desperate need to believe that counseling and my parenting are making a difference. As other parents are watching the game with a sense of excitement, I am praying… begging the Lord. “Lord, please let Ben feel a sense of peace. Don’t let him yell at the refs, have a nervous breakdown or punch a child in the face. Let him remember the thousands of conversations we have had about respect and self-control.” I used to want my child to shine God’s light on the court, now I settle for a game absent of poor sportsmanship and violence.
Ben is blessed. He has had amazing, understanding coaches in the past, and his current basketball coaches are sent from heaven. I want to hug them or buy them a drink after every game. They are patient and knowledgeable and kind. They know when to correct and when to encourage and I am so thankful for them. At the game today, I was sitting behind the bench (willing calmness and reason into my son’s attitude) and this is what I observed… a team. Ben was struggling with an infraction of justice. He was shaking and crying. His teammates either gave him a tap on the back or offered a fist pump. My heart swelled. I am positive that they don’t understand Ben, I struggle to understand him. What they did understand was that he needed them.
I chose to write this tonight, because I see this act of love as an amazing lesson for the entire world. We may not understand others, but what we do understand is that others need us and we need them. We aren’t meant to do life, parenting, school, relationships, anything… alone.
Parents, all of you, but in this moment, those who have children with rigid thinking, this is my heart of solidarity to you. My tap on your back, my fist pump. You’ve got this.
To Ben’s people, (his teachers, coaches, teammates, friends) thank you. I truly believe, that one day, Ben will be part of the fight to defend what is right in this world. But for now, he will be keeping me on the edge of my seat, bargaining with God, until the game is over.