|Seen this evening on our way home from volleyball.|
We have had quite a week, full of ups and downs, and today was a strong reminder of what it is all really about. Kenny and Angela had their season end volleyball tournament, which was a really big deal for everyone participating. It was an all day affair, and we had to be up early to head to the next town over for it. This was after a late night filled with friends, pumpkins and hot dogs as we held a small Halloween gathering at our house last night. We had about 20 people over, more pumpkins than we needed, and a nice time of visiting with friends, old and new.
Here are the teammates, ready for their big day! I love that they enjoy being on the same team, and that being siblings with starkly contrasting skills hasn't been an ounce of trouble:
I was a little concerned initially about both of them being on the same team, but I shouldn't have been. Yes, Angela is a natural at the sport and Kenny will never likely be a natural at much of anything that relates to sports. The love they share for one another is so evident though, and a respect for each other's gifts is always present. Even their coach told me today what a blessing it was to see the two of them playing together, and how sensitive Angela was about Kenny's feelings. She said she intentionally tried much of the season to place them side by side on the court, as she quickly saw that Angela would take great care to set Kenny up with the ball, and she would purposely back off when Kenny was next to her so he could have a chance at the easier lobs. Funny how what in some families would be a really sticky situation turned out to be a wonderful chance for both Angela and Kenny to appreciate each other's gifts. Kenny became the best cheerleader ever for the team, and showed such graciousness in never being upset at not playing as much as any of the other kids on the team. Angela always complimented Kenny, and Kenny always compliment her and all his other teammates on a well played game.
Today, Kenny only got to play for about 4 or 5 points the entire 3 games of the tournament. Honestly, it was probably the right move by his coach, as the competition was fierce the entire time, and Kenny would have felt terribly if the team lost due to a costly error on his part. This way, he went out of the season still feeling good about his performance overall for the season, and not feeling any regret due to any mistakes made on the final day.
He also became even more my hero, and I think that is true for all of us on Team LaJoy. Sometimes it truly is the "least of these" who show us how to live a life filled with joy and grace.
Angela had a great tournament, playing quite well, making a mistake here or there, diving for balls, and really contributing to her team's victories. It was a great first year experience for both of them, and all 4 of the older kids are looking forward to playing next year. Poor Joshie will have 2 more years before he is old enough to play, guess he'll be the official Team LaJoy mascot!
Their team went on to win two medals, one for being #1 for the season and the other for being #1 in the tournament:
Our family is a little weird, and in a long conversation with my mom tonight we yacked about how, for some reason, our kids are just not motivated by awards and accolades. Oh sure, they enjoy it just as we all do from time to time, but in the long run they don't have a need to be the center of attention. But when it comes to things like sports or other competitive things, they are in it more for the fun of doing it. When we missed the track meet this spring due to the death of our nephew, not a single one was upset about it, saying that they had fun practicing and that family was more important. None of the kids cares at all about proving how smart they are with good grades, and I quickly found that for them, issuing "report cards" was pointless. They want to learn, they love the comments and encouragement, but they don't have the need that so many of us have to show they are better than others, and instead tend to prefer to lift others up. Time and time again I have been surprised at how little sense of competition there is between all of our kids, especially with the 4 older ones being so close in age to one another. It surely helps that each has their own interests that are quite different from one another, but I keep waiting for it to creep up and explode on us...and it still certainly could...but thus far it hasn't even come close. That alone makes our home much more peaceful than it was even for my parents with me and my brother!! Hahaha! My poor parents, it was ROUGH!!
Really though, isn't THIS what it is all about???:
Kenny gained far more this season than skill or playing time, he gained a wonderful new buddy...as did Angela. Sports are not the end all and be all, they are supposed to be a means to get fit, and to build relationships. I think I can say honestly, "Mission Accomplished!" and I am GLAD we have the kids we have, despite the fact that most will never be the "rock stars" on a court, field or even in the classroom. They are special in their ordinariness, they are walking a path all their own, they are not letting the things of this world call out to them and dictate who they become. Will they remain this way? I hope so.
And as Kenny jumped up and down, yelling for his team during the final game, rooting for his sister and teammates, I realized that being different is in many ways, a much happier way to be.