Coach Brainy

I don’t want to write about all the things I’m bad at. I feel like that’s all I ever write about, in a way. I suck at writing, doing the dishes, blah blah blah. I want to write about the things that I’m good at.

But a weird thing happened at some point where messages about things I’m good at stopped really coming through. I remember it being about maybe third grade. The story became “you’re smart, but you’re bad at things.” I couldn’t keep track of papers. I couldn’t write legibly. I couldn’t run fast. I couldn’t hit a baseball or score goals in soccer.

Thing is, I COULD do those things. I often struggled with them, it’s true. Some of those things are hard! You try to hit a fucking baseball. Yet I could often do them. I remember turning in assignments. Writing things down that other people were able to read. Scoring goals. Beating out ground balls in the hole where the shortstop got a glove on it but couldn’t quite get it to first base in time. I broke up a no-hitter once in Little League in the second-to-last inning! Still, somehow the story in my head was that I couldn’t do them. 

There was a happy ending to the story - I would probably still be OK because I am SO SMART. Funny thing, though. I don’t FEEL happy at the end of the story. Being someone who’s really smart but who can’t do things isn’t fun. It’s the worst character in the story, actually. It’s Brainy Smurf. 

If you know me, the idea that I’m Brainy Smurf is kind of idiotic. I’m actually kind of a jock, if a fairly cerebral jock. But when you play sports you fail a lot, and I can’t take it sometimes. Especially if people get upset with me for letting the team down or if I feel like I’m being picked on. I freak out. No, like, seriously, I FREAK OUT. Bad. 

If there were competitive binder-keeping or poster making I would freak out while I was doing those things too. Fortunately you can just avoid those things. My brain helps to remind me to avoid those things because if I ever imagine making a poster or putting together a binder immediately the phrase “I hate mysetl” or “I want to kill myself” pops into my head and my idea goes away fast. 

Gah! I have to pull this back from the brink now but I only have one minute left. Maybe a list of things I’m good at? There might not be time. How about one thing I’m good at? I’m a good kids’ soccer coach. Not the kind that makes your kid better by showing her what she’s doing wrong. The kind that tells your kid she’s doing great. “Look at you, doing this hard thing! Wow!” It’s hard to do. Kids aren’t that good at soccer compared to grownups. It’s really easy to see what they are doing wrong, and hard to focus on what they are doing right. 

But I’m good at it.

 

Richmond, VA

 It'll be nice soon. We should have a kids-and-grownups soccer game some Saturday!