Hope can be a beautiful thing, but it can also be a crutch. I know some of you are reading that and wondering what in the world do I mean? Maybe I am crazy, or maybe I am an alien, but to me, hope is what fills the space between our efforts and our goals. I want my boys always to be hopeful, but I never want them to lean on hope for things to happen. I know it might sound a little cynical, but I mean it and teach it to my sons with the purest intent.
Lorenzo, my twelve years old, can be incredibly brilliant one moment and a space cadet the next. There have been so many times I have asked him: “How was your test?” and of course the first answer is, as any pre-teen would say, “I don’t know.” I counter with “Did you do well?” and then I get the answer which has led me to this epiphany about hope, “I hope so.” Whenever he tells me he hopes he did well, I squirm. When I press him, he will say he thinks he did well, or he will focus on the one or two questions he wasn’t confident in his answer. But that “I hope I did well” bothered me and the more I thought about it, the more I came to realize I need to help him prepare, instead of just letting him hope.
Don’t get me wrong, hope can be beautiful, it keeps up positive, and it can even give us peace when we have no control over a situation. Hope also provides us with the courage to aim for lofty goals, but as hope guides us we need to let our actions and determination carve the path to those goals.
Last night we were at Lorenzo’s basketball game. He decided this winter he wanted to try it. He played a year when he was five or six and all he did was run up and down the court giggling. It was hilarious, but it was evident that he wasn’t ready for it. Flash forward to now and with many of his school friends playing; he decided he wanted to play as well. His first practice in the fall was rough. He is so used to controlling the ball with his feet in soccer that when they passed him the ball while running, he fell over. I must admit, it was amusing to me but frustrating to him. I’ve kept telling him just to have fun, work hard and enjoy it, and he has. Mike, his coach, is a fantastic coach and has done a great job with him, and I have tried to help him as much as I can, but he has done the work and keeps doing the work.
When he started, he had all these hopes of making 3’s, breaking kids’ ankles and things he wants to do on the court. As those hopes have motivated him, his action, efforts and hard work have made him improve exponentially. Last night at the game I was running the scoreboard and one of the refs tells me: “He has grown so much since the beginning of last season” and I must admit my chest puffed up like a proud papa. I was proud because his hopes and aspirations had guided him, but his hard work and determination had made him improve. I was proud because I knew he had learned the lesson and any dreams and hopes he will have in his future he will work his butt off to make them a reality.
I want my boys as they get older to hope for beautiful sunny days at the beach, to hope to win a raffle, to hope their favorite sports team wins the championship, but never hope for success, goals or for things to happen to or for them. When it comes to that, I want hope to guide their goals, but for them to have the confidence, determination, and willingness to do the work to achieve those hopes and dreams.