You know when you have those moments in your life that just speak to you and stick with you? And you’re like “Well, I will be, how true is that”? The excuse bench story is one of my big ones. I mean BIG. I’m actually lying on the beach listening to “Girl, Stop Apologizing” and while Rachel is giving some sage advice, the gist of her book reminds me of the excuse bench.
When Dylan was in 7th grade he was beginning his “school sport” career. Mind you we had been little league footballing, Rec league baseball and travel balling for quite some time. “Daddy ball” as some called it. That kind where we all acted like there was a brand new Ford waiting on us in the parking lot if we win. I reckon we all thought we had the next Bo Jackson on our hands. What is it they say, “we all think our crow is the blackest”. Dylan was no exception. Mommas angel. I’ve long past asked forgiveness for my actions from those days. Lord, be near.
Picture it. Summer basketball pre-season tournament. Circa 7th grade Sboro Junior High glory days. In the old, old gym. You folks from Grant know what I mean. The thing about the old, old gym was this. They had those old wooden bleachers that really gave you nowhere to sit except right behind the team who was sitting on the front row. And besides, all us mommas had on our best black and gold. All perched up there like a buncha excited kids at Christmas. Our black crows were fixing to squawk.
Now, for those of you who know my child, he’s a good kid. I got real lucky. But one thing I have to say is his forte is not being able to take constructive criticism well. What I mean y’all, is, well, Dylan ain’t never done nothing that was his fault in his life. He’s grown out of this somewhat (I mean, he had ME as a momma 😳). Some of you know his daddy too. He comes from a long line of control freaks. God love him.
So, needless to say, during one of the first time-out huddles, us mommas were all leaned over just waiting for the praise Coach Arnold was about to bestow on our crows. I’ve always told Dylan if you look good, you play good. My legendary white baseball pant skills are for another post I’m afraid. I’m kinda a legend. Take a moment and bow to the Queen of Stains. Here ye, here ye. Fels Naptha should seriously pay me a royalty check.
Wait. What was that?? Coach Arnold dared to tell MY baby what he was doing wrong? In a pre-season tournament that was geared to get the jitters out and to practice their game and give them a taste of real games? Dylan and Hunter. No, they didn’t foul. They didn’t even do anything drastic. But their coach (look up the definition Bc I actually did that on the way home and read it over and over to D), got ON TO THEM! You could hear a pin drop on Momma Row. We froze. Black and gold shakers hanging low.
And just what did my child do? He made an excuse. Which made his bff Hunter kinda brave and HE made an excuse. Go back to the Never done anything that was his fault bit. What did Coach Arnold do? Grabbed them both BY THE ARM (this has been significant when I relive this story) and slung, yes slung those 2 onto the bench. Wait a minute here. Their 2 faces said it all.
The words that changed my life. And I hope Dylan’s. And Hunters.
“Those 2 are on the excuse bench. Anyone else wanna join them”?
Pretty sure no one spoke up because the game resumed and we had enough players to head back out. All while these 2 were riding the pine.
Mommaville erupted all at once. “Are you gonna let him talk to him that way”! and “He grabbed him”……those that knew me well expected the eruption of all eruptions. Of epic proportions. For once I’m glad I disappointed. I sat back and said “I sure am”. I chuckled, even. Looked at his little incredulous face that had turned around to me and gave him “the” look. The one that said say one word. Dare you.
It was the first time I had ever been glad my son failed. For real. Did Dylan go back into the game? Sure he did. Did I ever see him make an excuse again? Nope. Not that I could hear. Have I used the excuse bench many times over since that day. Sure enough.
With Dylan. With work. With friends. With family. With jail ministry (oh, especially here!!), but most of all with myself. Sitting here listening to this book and hearing someone else tell me that there is no one but myself to blame for my endless running around with my chicken with its head off schedule? And that if you truly want something you need to hustle and do whatever you have to do in Order to make it happen?
Before the excuse bench, I would have said, “Hey. She don’t know how hectic my life is”. Granny O. Work. Me time. The endless guinea pig wheel in my mind that spins endlessly with idea after idea everyday.
Post excuse bench thinking I’m over here fist pumping and heck yeah’ing and making folks on the beach near me question who or what they’re sitting by. Headphones are the devil at times.
My son went on to have a wonderful school career. It just happened to be in baseball. That was his love. He played 3 years of college ball and still loves the game. The excuse bench came along. He was his biggest critic. And I was his biggest fan.
If just one of you reads about the excuse bench and applies it to your life, or your kids lives or just well, anything, it was worth foregoing my beach nap and running my battery down out here. I wish I could make an excuse for old me who just had the chair rental boy change my umbrella to full shade. But hey, can’t make excuses.