I need to take a moment to ask for some grace. Not just for me, but for all of us. None of us have ever gone through anything in our lives even remotely like this. Not a single one of us knows all the answers. We are each just trying the best we can to live through a difficult situation.
Those of you with kids, I’m truly sorry that they can’t be back in school. I miss the kids in my classroom. For the kids I teach and coach, I need to apologize to you because right now, even my best just isn’t good enough. Don’t think for a second that I will give up on you though. My lesson may flop some days. Practice might not be the best practice ever. I may seem a bit not like myself at times. I am truly sorry.
As adults and especially adults who have kids or work with kids, there is an overwhelming amount of pressure right now. Pressure to lead children when we ourselves don’t even know the path. Pressure to have it all figured out and know all the answers to tell kids. I have to tell you all that I just don’t. I don’t have it figured out. I don’t know all the answers. I can’t be the coach that I have always been right now. I can’t be the same teacher either. I’m not the brother or son or or uncle or friend I want to be right now either. The world is just different right now. I promise you that I’m trying though. I promise you that you are still incredibly important to me.
This year things have been different. I get online and I see people upset and complaining. I go out to tournaments and I hear people upset and complaining. All that I can ask for is grace. All that I can ask for is for you to take a step back and understand that I see you struggling too and I’m sorry. I hope that you can see me struggling and just give me the patience to find my way in this new world again without thinking that all of a sudden over night I am no longer the coach or teacher that you entrusted the education of your children to.
The world is so ugly right now that it hurts every day to think about. Please, before you say those hurtful words that will, I promise you, get back to the people you said them about, please please please give each other some grace.
I understand that you want what is best for your children but believe me, that’s all any of us who have dedicated our lives to working with children truly want in the end. I will fight for your child in the best way that I know how. It might not be the way that you would do it. My classroom may not be run the way you think it should be. The program I coach for may not be doing the things that you think we should be doing but we are still the same people. I am the same teacher that tried to connect with your child to understand how he or she learned. I am the same coach that tried as hard as I could to help give my passion for the sport to your kid. We all are. You’re the same mother or father who would give your kid the world if you could and I understand that right now you are frustrated that you can’t.
I promise you that I will give you the grace and understanding that you deserve. I promise you that I will listen to you without jumping to conclusions. I promise you that I will try my best to help you with the things that are frustrating you.
Now is not the time to be divisive and especially in front of the kids who are trying to make their way through this like we are. Children take their examples from all of us. We have a responsibility to do better and to be better for them. If there is one thing that teaching and coaching for so many years has taught me it’s that culture is EVERYTHING. The environment we create for kids is EVERYTHING. If there is something that you see that is wrong, don’t talk about it with your kids. Go and talk to the person that needs to change something. A kids attitude about the environment they are learning in comes from the people they are surrounded with. Help your children to find the positive in these seemingly unchangeable circumstances and then go and be the change if you can find a way. If your child is having problems with online learning, help them to do the best that they can and then take care of the problem without involving them. I promise you that if a parent came to me and said that their child needed help, there isn’t anything that I wouldn’t do to help that child. Have the conversations!
Your children have so much pressure on them right now. They need us all to work together to help a bad situation to be better. Have the conversations with the adults that have the power to change things. Your children are not those people. I have seen so many kids lately who have a terrible attitude toward the way online learning is being done or toward the way that practices have been structured. It breaks my heart to see. I pour my heart and soul into the kids that I work with in my classroom and on the court. Many of my coworkers and peers do too! We’re not going to get it right all the time and if you are going to judge us all based on our performances in life during such a difficult time, then I am telling you right now that I am failing. Believe me, your disappointment hurts because for those of us that truly care about what we do, all we want is to give your children every opportunity we can.
I remember having a conversation with my mom once as I was growing into adulthood. My parents were frustrated with me that I wasn’t taking the normal path of going from high school to college and then into a career. I just wasn’t ready. I remember telling my mom rather angrily that I wasn’t a success in those terms but that if you went and asked the people who knew me that they would always say that I was kind.
I have to tell you all right now, I don’t have it all figured out, things aren’t going to be perfect, but when your children are in my presence they are going to get the best I’ve got that day and they are ALWAYS going to know my kindness! In this time of crazy change, I’m sorry, but that is just going to have to be enough. It’s all I can do. Please understand that it will not always be this way. We will ALL rise from this at some point. I only hope that we can all be patient with each other, give each other grace, and do it together.