"What an experience!"
If I had a nickel for every time I heard that in the last couple of weeks, I'm sure I'd have at least a dollar. The reason for all the exclamations was that my 13-year-old was volunteering as a tennis ball-boy for the ATP Qatar ExxonMobil Open for the second year in a row. I'd always smile, and nod, and say, "Yes, it is. He's very lucky," and then secretly feel a bit puzzled by what exactly they meant. What was it about him doing this that other people found so appealing? Was it the limelight? The brush with celebrity? The public display of competence running around picking up after somebody else? (Oh, if only he trained at home!) It wasn't until after the tournament was over that I fully understood what The Experience meant for us.
Evidently, when Teenager-Who-Really-Really-Wants-To-Do-This-Again teams up with Dad-Who- Doesn't-See-What-the-Big-Deal-Is, they will win by a landslide every time they are confronted with Beat-the-Fun-Out-of-Everything Mom. And so it was that his responsibility became my responsibility. I would have to make sure that he got to the stadium on time, that he was fed, that he had his homework done, etc., etc., and that everyone else in the family was taken care of.
|Water for Tsonga|
|Returning balls for Nadal|
|Mon fils retrieving balls for Monfils|
Last Thursday I put that same boy on a plane for his 8th Grade service trip, to the island of Borneo. I hope (and I secretly know) that there will be a change in maturity, that he will be a little closer to independence than he was when he left. And if that happens, I think we can chalk it up to experience.