Cole wants to learn how to dribble a basketball. But often when he's at Dash Multisport, instead of trying to dribble, he bounces the ball once, then lays down on the ball and rolls around for a while balancing on his belly on the ball.
So on the way to Dash today, we had a pep talk about not giving up. We talked about how when things get hard, we should keep practising, even if it's not easy. We talked about determination. We talked about stick-with-it-ness. And I even played a Sesame Street Song called Don't-Give-Up and we sang along all the way to the community centre.
They didn't play basketball. They played volleyball. And instead of rolling around on one volleyball, he rolled around on two.
Later that day, we went to the park. It was freezing cold and few people were around. The park was next to a fenced-in outdoor pool at a community centre that was under construction. So the community centre was closed. There was a lady who was playing with her two young boys and each of them had a ball. The older boy had a soccer ball. The younger lad had a Spiderman ball.
At one point, I heard her say, "Are you kidding me?!" and then they were looking forlornly through the chain-link fence, across to the forbidden side, where the bright red and black Spiderman ball had landed.
It was as good as gone. That was evident to me in an instant. About four feet from the fence on the opposite side. And I watched them mulling over the situation for a few minutes. I saw them find a long thin stick and poke through the fence at the ball just out of reach. What on earth do they think they're going to be able to accomplish with that? I wondered.
The kids and I continued to play and when I looked back at the family, they had inched the ball towards the fence and then had poked their fingers through the gaps in the fench to inch the ball upwards ... slowly ... oh so slowly. When the ball was at eye level with the woman, I shook my head to myself. I knew she wouldn't be tall enough to get the ball over the fence that way. I went over and offered that she could stand on my back. She said, no, she wouldn't do that. She said she was just making one mom's half-hearted attempt at getting a ball back, but it wasn't worth standing on my back. I said, You could get another two feet if you stand on my back. She smiled at me, I couldn't do that.
She stood on her tip toes and pushed her arm as far through the fence as it would go and angled it in such a way as to give her the best odds of her throw getting the ball back over the fence. Probably fifteen minutes of her time and energy was invested in that toss and I couldn't watch.
Despite myself I did look back and saw the ball bounce, as I'd expected, against the fence and land even further on the wrong side of the fence. Now a good ten feet from where we were.
It certainly was a good try, I thought.
They followed the fence along the path towards the front of the building, where I knew the front door was also fenced off. Probably heading home, I figured. A new ball is likely no more than a few dollars at Canadian Tire.
A few minutes later, they were back.
They had a longer stick. A much longer and stronger stick. And again they were poking in the direction of the ball. I admired their determination, but had little hope they'd recover the ball.
A few minutes later they had set the stick down and had found a weak part in the fence and were curling the it up at its base, seeing how big they could force the opening. Good grief! I thought, She is not going to have her kids crawl through there, is she?
But she didn't. They gave up. They walked along the other path, around the other side of the building. Finally. They realize it's a lost cause.
Then, just as my kids and I were getting ready to leave the park, the little family of three appeared again. They picked up the long stick and slowly, bit by bit, pushed the ball towards the hole in the fence. And I realized that they had won. They had persevered against the odds. They had a fierce attachment to that ball. And a super-hero-sized drive to not-give-up!