Moments of Motherhood

What you need to know about my son, the “ball hog”

I’d be rolling my eyes, too.

I hate it, but I just know I probably would be.

If I had no clue who “that boy” was, no background knowledge, never was privileged to have a true heart to heart with him, I would be thinking and even more wrongly, might even be saying the same things you are.

That boy who doesn’t pass the ball as much as he should.

That boy who can go down the court quite wildly and so fast that he loses control of the ball more times than he has control over it.

That boy who seems like he may not be a team player to you or perhaps being a ball hog, coming from a place of selfishness or disregard for his team.

But if you only knew.

If you … only … knew.

This is the little boy that told his Dad last week that Jesus was his best friend and asks me all the time if he is “good enough” so he can get to Heaven one day. Despite assuring him a hundred times before, my heart will tell him another thousand times that he is a good boy.

This is the little boy who has watched my body weaken over the last couple months and sometimes be too afraid to come close to me while I laid in bed, but instead would kneel outside my bedroom door, and just keep peeking in at me to make sure I was still there.

This is the little boy who wouldn’t eat his dinner while we were out at a restaurant because he couldn’t take his eyes off an elderly gentleman who appeared to be celebrating what very well may be his last birthday; tears swelled in my young son’s eyes. Yes, what you don’t realize that behind the intensity and impulsivity is a true empath.

This is the little boy who has been to behavior specialists and child psychologists, and although he’s incredibly smart and very normal, he struggles. A lot of his reactions he can’t control and sometimes he will break down in tears to his father and me as he admits he just doesn’t know what to do.

This is the little boy who has come home from school multiple times this year, talking about a little girl in his class that many don’t like to associate with, let alone play with. But what did my son do? He talked to her — he talked to her and what did he find out? My 7-year-old son listened to his “not very well liked” peer talk about her father in jail and how tough things are at home.

Yes, my son goes out of his way to be genuinely kind to her as he took the time to find this out all on his own.

This is the little boy who wants to please everyone, with his entire being, and just make the people around him proud. You probably don’t realize how much he beats himself up when he disappoints himself or anyone else for that matter.

This is the little boy who saw me take a seat at church as my legs got too tired from standing, and stroked my hair. He let me put my head on his shoulder as he ever so gently stroked his mother’s hair.

I can’t stay mad at the fellow parents judging him because I have to try to understand from your viewpoint and your limited knowledge about my son and realize only what you can see. My God, it’s hard, it’s so hard, but I have to put myself in your shoes.

I sit here supposed to be typing up a speech as I travel tomorrow to speak at the prestigious Penn State University, but my heart hurts. Instead my mind is on my little boy at school and I sit here crying for him, knowing that more than likely other students and other teachers falsely judge him, too.

I’ve yelled at him, I’ve been patient with him, I’ve begged and pleaded with him to try to just “get it,” but he still doesn’t.

He tells me he wants to score for his team. He tells me how he wants to be “so fast” and “so good” out there for his Dad and me.

He is so highly competitive and aggressive and loves sports, and on a whole, I love that about him.

But to the parents who judge and talk poorly of my son, I beg of you to please keep an open mind. Please know that you don’t see everything to the entire puzzle.

If the entire world could see what most don’t, if you could get to truly know my son, you would be a better person for it.

For any parent who can relate to their misinterpreted child, please know, their love, light and heart will shine. It may not be seen by everyone, but those who get to see it and experience it, my God, their lives will be forever blessed.

My son, I love you. I’m so proud of you. I pray that you continue to teach me to always have a more open heart and mind.

Long is a local author and mother of four, entrepreneur, paid parental leave advocate and health coach. Her column is published on the third Sunday of each month in the Lifestyle section. To keep up with Long, visit reganlong.com

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