So last night I went to a wrestling banquet with Paul. It was to celebrate those who had excelled and recognize those who had tried. Perrysburg is a good wrestling school, and they had a lot to celebrate this year in terms of individual and team excellence. Paul was a first year JV wrestler. He won 2 matches all season. We knew none of those accolades would be his. But we went anyway, to celebrate with the others…and eat food.
All of the wrestlers decided to squish around 2 tables while the parents scattered around the. So 24ish boys of no mean size squashed around 2 round tables. Paul is one of the bigger boys, but he’s not too pushy and as space ran out he just kind of hovered at the edges. I noticed as they got their food and came back, he’d managed to join the main body of the group, so I continued talking to my own table mates without any concern.
I had to leave early for another meeting, and as I got up to throw away my plate I looked around to catch his eye and say good bye. He wasn’t at either one of the wrestler tables. He wasn’t in the food line. I looked around the commons area a little confused, and finally found him sitting with another boy on the perimeter of the room.
I was upset. I was frustrated with his teammates for pushing him to the outside when he just wanted to be included and they could be so thoughtless. I was sad for my son, because I never want him to feel as if he is unwanted or alone. It is not a feeling I would ever choose for him to feel. I didn’t know what to say or do for him to take away the reproach of the situation.
He saw me getting up, and stood, offering to take the plates of the other boy and his mother, who was also sitting at the table. He met me by the trash and put an arm around my shoulders.
“I’m sorry you’re alone.” I whispered so no one else would hear me.
He looked surprised for a moment, and then smiled down at me. “Oh. No mom. I went and sat there because HE was alone.”
I hugged my son without shame, in front on his teammates and his coaches and all the other parents.
“I know you aren’t getting any special awards tonight. But I am proud of you. I am more proud of you then I can even say. You are a good man.”
My son does not excel in areas that are easily measurable. He’s not at the top of his class academically. He isn’t athletic enough to get noticed by his peers. He can’t sing or play instruments with astounding proficiency.
And that’s okay. I don’t feel the need to press him to be better in any of those arenas. Because who is becoming, I believe, is a great person and a good man despite his “measurable” deficiencies. I feel blessed and humbled to be his mother.