This morning I was thinking about how we learn to do things. The other night, Sam’s baseball team had to help the Challenger league. This is a league for children with special needs. Sam was paired with a non-verbal autistic child. Sam is a really quiet, introverted child if he doesn’t know you. When he was little and we would visit grandparents, Sam would cry and hide until he felt comfortable. For Sam to be a mentor player with a non-verbal autistic child, he had to push past his comfort level and put himself “out-there”. It was amazing to watch this other side of my son appear. He was encouraging and patient with a ball player who was more interested in throwing the coaching clipboard than wearing his glove or standing in the ready position. But when Sam’s player hit the ball off the tee, Sam ran with him to first base, gave him a high-five, and said, “That was a great hit!” When his player would throw his glove on the ground, Sam would pick it up, help him get it on his hand, and once again show him how to stand in the ready position. A minute later, the same dance would begin again.
Where did my introverted babe learn this behavior? I know he saw it modeled a lot when he was growing up and I was running a preschool from our home. I know he has seen it when his father makes small talk with new people. But he has also learned that sometimes you just have to make yourself leave your comfort zone. You can’t grow if you are always comfortable. Growth comes from pushing through the comfort-zone. I was reading a book about snakes yesterday and learned an interesting fact. Snakes are always growing, which is why they continually have to shed their skin. They are constantly pushing through.
My favorite part of the whole night was after the game when we were talking in the car on the way home. I was telling Sam how proud of him I was as I watched him be patient and help another player learn to play baseball. I saw him share his love for baseball with someone else that evening by helping them play and be successful.
After a moment he responded, “It was hard, Mom. I didn’t always know what to do, or how to help him, but it was fun playing baseball with him.”
I think my boy is shedding his skin.