Posted in Family, Faith and Fitness

some optimism

40 Reflections: 40 days of raw recollections during the Lenten Season

No. 34

I like to think of myself as a glass-half-full gal. As soon as a game is lost, a tear falls, or feelings are hurt, I swoop in with lessons from the field, a tissue, and empathy. Although sometimes my swooping is way too much.

You see, after a 10-run rule baseball game, I might say, “Great swing! That pitcher looked like a 20-year-old senior!” Then there’s the swim DQ, “Nice dive! Wowee! You’ll get them next time!” or a lost tennis match 0-6, 1-6, “Seriously, that game you DID win was fierce!!”.

In return, I’d get – Maaama! Did you even WATCH? “Oh, yes I did, and the team really seemed to gel! You’re going to have some fun memories, for sure!” My words fade in their ears like the light on a fall evening, going, going, gone. Thank goodness I married a realist.

A Journal of Experimental Psychology: General study reports that optimism is particularly prevalent among children, and declines as they grow up into adolescence. As they grow older, children learn more from negative outcomes, lose their hyper-optimism, and become more realistic. “We found that children were much more optimistic than the adolescents. All groups of young people had an optimism bias, as they over-estimated how much they will earn, but the younger children were particularly hyper-optimistic, and thought they would get the most treasures.”

I’ve noticed as my own kids get older, their optimism wanes. Pandemics, rejection letters from colleges, and “best friends” who shifted titles to simply “good friends” are likely contributors to the skepticism that takes over.

I am reminded of the natural optimism kids have when I see one little guy in kindergarten at school. He starts every sentence with “Guess what!” The words that follow typically involve an amazing cartwheel he just did during recess or a really beautiful picture he drew for his grandpa who is sick and will for sure make him feel better. In fact, we were counting in Spanish the other day, and he had to stop at Ocho (eight) because “Guess what!” My brother’s favorite number is ocho and I just love my brother.” Joy and optimism envelop him and fortify everyone around him.

a bit of pessimism

In all honesty, when it comes to my kids’ grades, I still tend to see the 78 before the 98 and the unfinished project in the garage. I then proceed to pepper them with, well what did you miss on the test? Did you study? What is your homework? I mean, high school grades count! All useless questions I just want to grab back, toss into the air, and hope a skeet shooter blasts them.

So I try and focus on Winston Churchill’s famous quote that “a pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”

And I still feel every sporting event my kids participate in is great…maybe not for them, but for an optimist like me…they are fantastic!

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