The curse of early success – in school and in softball

59660482_10156981864705801_7057403034296385536_o.jpgNeve’s in the midst of her first-ever softball season, and though she adores games of all kinds, and enjoyed her pre-season practices, she’s been struggling recently.

Which is to say: as her fourth game approached, I was just as nervous, if not more so, than she was.

Not because her performance on the field is 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.

Ironically, the drama has been extra-heightened because in Neve’s first game, she was two-for-three at the plate, scored two runs, and earned the coaches’ post-game “Pringles Award” 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 unfolded. She struck out each at-bat 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 success with her current dry spell.

I call this “the curse of early success.”

After each failed at-bat now, Neve exits 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 still needs her to get back out there and keep going; that we love her whether she gets 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