A Difficult Conversation


“You never say anything positive to me.”

“It’s not that, buddy. I just think you are not hearing what the coach is saying and getting both frustrated and offended.”

“She hates me. She’s never going to let me play with kids my own age.”

“But, you are not at the level of the kids your own age.” I choose my words carefully. I make sure not to say, “not as good as…”.

“How does she know how good I am or not when she never watches me play? She never gives me a chance and only puts me in the group with kids five years or more younger than me.”

I get distracted, “They weren’t that young.”

“I don’t care. I’m totally embarrassed out there. Why won’t you help me practice?”

“This is the first time that you’ve asked. Of course, I’ll help you practice.”

“You say that, but you always get too busy with work or the other kids.”

“I won’t. You want to work on this, so I will help you. But if you are not happy playing tennis, you don’t have to.”

“I don’t know what I want to do. Maybe I would like it better if I was better at it.”

“You absolutely would. But you have to put the time in. Just like with your trumpet. If you only practice some of the time, when you really need to play, you will be frustrated.”

He gets distracted: “I’ve been practicing! Why don’t I get credit for practicing more?”

“But now we are talking about tennis.”

“How can I get better if I only play with the little kids and do the same stupid drills over and over for skills that I already know?”

Sigh. I cannot tell him that he has not perfected those skills yet. He’s too raw.

“I will help you practice like you asked. I just want to make sure you are like playing.”

“Let’s do some practicing and I’ll see how I feel.”

“Sounds good.”