Just Get Better

The Easter Bunny brought paddle ball – the exact set that Briggs has been eyeing at Market Basket.

Which is to say, the Easter Bunny did not go all out and make sure to deliver a set with quality wood paddles and an appropriately weighted (bouncy) ball.

No, the Easter Bunny delivered a cheap, plastic bright orange set complete with a ball with very little give.

When I got home from work today, Briggs asked if it was too windy to try out this new paddle ball set.  I told him it wasn’t and out we went.  This was Briggs’s first time attempting paddle ball, and my first game of the season.

The paddles were too light, the ball wasn’t really bouncy at all, and the grass (weeds) in the side yard were too long.  Briggs was also dead set against serving.

“Mum, I’ve never done this before, so you serve every time.  I don’t want to do that part.”

I tried to convince him otherwise, but he was pretty clear: “Mum, you serve every time, that’s the deal, okay?  That’s.  The.  Deal.”

I thought about ending the game before it started, but instead, figured he’d get bored pretty quickly, because it was unlikely that this was going to be very much fun.

And, in the beginning, it wasn’t.

My first dozen or so serves went unanswered, and I was sure that my competitive minnie-me would soon be chucking his paddle over the neighbor’s fence…but instead, he said:

“This is just practice.  Just my first time.  So, this is just learning, right, Mum?”

“You’re right, bud.  This is just learning.”

He smiled.  I melted.  We played on.

I offered tips on how to hold the paddle, where to stand, and how to approach the ball.  He offered me wisdom.

Go slow.  Try again.  Take a breath.  Make a joke.  Care less. Repeat.  It’s just learning.

Then, I decided to set a goal.

“How about this, ” I said, “let’s go for four hits back and forth.”

“You count one, then I go two?” Briggs asked.

“Bingo,” I said.

“We got this.”

After another half-dozen unanswered serves, we actually did start to get it.  We got to two and we stayed there for a few more rounds, until, without me even asking, Briggs decided to try his hand at the serve…and that’s when we got to three.

Four never even happened, we went straight to five and then upped our goal to six.  By now, hitting our twos and threes were routine, fours were good, fives were great, and six was the stretch.

We dove and ran and tried out our backhands…then I got a little over zealous and got my flip-flip caught on the liner of the mulch bed and wound up with a pretty deep gash on the underside of my pinky toe.

We played through anyway, until Ken called us in for dinner.  Then, I mended my foot.  We washed our hands and came to the table feeling…accomplished.

We came to our game with shoddy equipment, mix-matched experience, and undefined expectations – but that didn’t keep us from playing, which is how we learned – and just got better.










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