A Child’s Play

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A parent will understand.

“What part do you play, Tali?” I ask.

“A tree.”

“What do you do?”

“I stand, I sing, I fall.”

I knew then that little Natalia had summed up my entire life as she buckled up in the backseat. I
think she may have summed up humanity in her first role on a primary school stage.

“I stand, I sing, I fall.”

If we are lucky, this is enough. If we are lucky, we do this with passion and perspective.

I stand.

I want so much that Tali finds her legs. That she takes her first steps of autonomy from a foundation we call home. To many this seems so mundane. However, how many walk this earth upright without standing. Standing for personal and collective justice. Standing poised to voice our deepest hopes. Standing to embrace the life afforded us.

I sing.

Tali will find her voice. It will not be mine. It will resonate from deep within her chords and it will inspire her before it vibrates beyond. So simple, some may say. Just stand and sing. And yet, how many remain silent. A whisper works. A voice need not be loud to be heard within. But it needs to take form from hope and that voice must be tuned to the instrument of a positive life.

I fall.

To each her fate. My Tali will falter and will feel the pain of doing so. There a million moments of angst before the final fall. Since she does not yet understand the difference between Tuesday and May, I hope eternity can wait.

“I stand, I sing, I fall.”

A parent will understand how much I want to direct this play realizing that I cannot and knowing that I should not. I am a father first and a coach by profession and perhaps these are one in the same. By post and profession, I am responsible for setting a stage for another’s poignant performance.

As a coach, my task is to guide a young person as they stand and sing. My job is not to be the protagonist of my player’s performance. My role is to create those optimal conditions in which some child may stand and sing through sport. My responsibility is to pick up a few emotional pieces after a fall. My task is to demonstrate that a win is to be celebrated and a loss to be a lesson.

As I look in the rear-view mirror on the road home from school, I see the years behind me and a little girl that understands her role perfectly. After all, she stands tall, she sings her tune and she falls to close the curtain on a child’s play.

“That you are here—that life exists and identity, That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.” – Walt Whitman


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