We’re sending the boys to a new day camp.
Predictably, they’re not thrilled.
After promising to buy him miscellaneous sports equipment and a full sushi dinner after dismissal, my husband tried to rally my almost-seven-year-old with predictions that he would dominate the others at basketball and lacrosse — which, frankly, I don’t think anyone’s heard of in this stuck-in-the-70s little town.
So, what if my son’s not the best?
Many of us are familiar with Carol Dweck’s “fixed” versus “growth” mindset.
Her fixed mindset subjects believe talent is inherent. No amount of effort or practice can cultivate talent. You either have it or you don’t.
Fixed mindset kids are often paralyzed when they realize they’re not best. Rather than risk embarrassment by “underperforming,” these kids often avoid challenges altogether, preferring not to test their ability and expose their weaknesses.
Growth mindset kids, however, relish challenge. They understand that they can grow and improve by challenging themselves and even making mistakes.
I saw the movie “Keeping the Faith” about a dozen times — mostly to watch the neurotic and adorable Rabbi Jake Schram, played by Ben Stiller, fall in love with the leggy, blond Anna Riley, played by Jenna Elfman.
Jake tutors a bar mitzvah boy, walking him through his Torah portion. The poor kid is chubby and awkward, with a mop of curly hair and a voice that cracks. When pressed, Jake acknowledges to the boy that he does, indeed, “suck,” but that at thirteen, he’s supposed to. God’s challenge to the bar mitzvah boy is to step into adulthood by leading his congregation just when hormones and self-consciousness make him most awkward and seemingly ill-equipped.
If there’s something I want to do, I have to be willing to do it badly. Very badly.
If my son craves basketball stardom, he must first miss thousands or tens of thousands of shots. If he wants to enjoy campfires and African drumming, he must get out of the car and face a cabin full of new campers. Even if he cries a little when kiss him goodbye. Ten times.
I may aspire to greatness, but I have to start where I am. I have to love that I suck.
© Liora Powers