It was my idea that my seven year old start tennis lessons. I searched out a local club and arranged for a lesson. I was the one who bought her first racket.
On our way to here first lesson, I congratulated myself on the brilliance of the idea. Tennis wasn’t really popular in our town. That meant more one-on-one coaching. She’d quickly develop her untapped talents. She’d become a rising star in the tennis community. A big fish in a little pond.
At the club, the instructor said the first lesson was free, just to see if she’d take to the game. I agreed, but secretly I scoffed. Of course she’d take to the game.
I tried to temper my enthusiasm. She wouldn’t be a star- at first. These things take time. It’s best to be cautiously optimistic. She’ll get a full scholarship at some US college. A tennis powerhouse. Then she’ll move on to the professional ranks. After couple of years she’ll emerge as a star.
I watched my future star on the court. She spun her racket on the ground and chased stray balls. When her turn came to hit the ball, she missed completely. Whiffed. My heart fluttered. She missed her second time. And third. She stunk.
My heart sank. I thought about how awful she must feel. Actually, that thought came after my own dreams crumbled before my eyes.
The lesson ended and my daughter skipped over. I prepared to offer her consolation.
“How did it go?” I asked, knowingly.
“Daddy, it was so much fun! Did you see me?” she asked.
“I sure did,” I replied, somewhat perplexed.
All the way home she chattered away about her exciting new discovery- tennis.
I drove home in silence.
When we pulled in the driveway, she jumped out of the car and said, “Daddy, thank-you for taking me to tennis lessons. Can we go every week?”
“Absolutely Sweetheart,” I said. Somehow I was a hero and a failure as a father at the very same moment.