Neve’s in the midst of her first little league softball season, and although she adores all kinds of games, and very much enjoyed pre-season team practices, she’s been struggling recently.
To put it another way: as her fourth game approached, I was probably just as nervous, if not more so, than she was.
Not because her performance on the field is super-important to me, but because it’s so damn hard to watch your almost-8 year old kid collapse, again and again, in tearful disappointment.
And ironically, the drama has been heightened because in Neve’s first game, she was two-for-three at the plate, scored two runs, and earned one of the coaches’ post-game “Pringles Awards” for her contributions.
This gave Neve a huge boost of confidence, and made her think, “Oh, I’m good at this. This is how I’ll perform in every game.”
But that’s not how things have unfolded. She struck out each time she was approached the plate last game, and in game two, when she finally made contact, she was tagged at first to end the game – and Neve can’t, for the life of her, reconcile her early and immediate success with her current dry spell.
I call this “the curse of early success.”
Neve now, after each failed at-bat, leaves the dugout and slumps toward us, her face red with tears, her voice a weepy, pained monotone. She curls up on our laps, and we tell her all the things you’d expect. That professional players strike out all the time. That her team needs her to get back out there and keep going. That we love her whether she can get a hit or not. That if she wants to get better at hitting, and this is important to her, we’ll work on it together. That we know she can do it, but she has to keep trying.
None of this is what she wants to hear.
She just wants to get a hit and feel that thrill of accomplishment again. And until she does, she’ll torture herself with thoughts of, “I already showed myself and everyone else that I can do this. What’s wrong with me?” Continue reading