Tag Archives: youth

WHO COULD HE BE?

 

WhoCouldHeBe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Passing by a store window today,

I saw a strange man looking at me.

Old and gray, he had nothing to say.

I thought to myself, “Who could he be?

 

He was dressed like me from head to toe.

It shocked me to see him standing there.

I raised my arms to see what he’d do.

He did likewise with a chilling stare.

 

Each movement I made, he did the same.

Why was this old man toying with me?

Was he just playing a silly game?

I thought to myself, “Who could he be?

 

I moved to and fro and turned around.

Each time I looked at the window there,

He was mocking me without a sound.

I grew tired of his stare and gray hair.

 

Then I felt something so very odd,

As if I had been stung by a bee.

It was then I gave him a slight nod,

For I saw clearly, he was just me.

 

I walked away feeling somewhat sad,

For no longer am I a young man.

Years have drifted past, but I’m not mad.

I’ll keep on doing the best I can.

 

Yes, my days are numbered, that’s for sure!

Some things were not meant for me to do.

But through all I have had to endure,

There is nothing I wish to undo.

 

Before I leave, here’s some thoughts for you.

You may be young at this point in time,

But some day your hair will be gray too.

Give your best in life while in your prime.

 

For those who have danced through life like me,

Have no fear for there’s much you can do.

Keep pushing hard and you will soon see,

Some have been blessed by just knowing you.

 

Tom Tatum – Author – 2016

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YOUTH DADDY-BALL AND ME

There was a time in life about one-hundred years ago when I played youth baseball. In those days, the term “Daddy-Ball” didn’t exist—at least I never heard it used. Yes, dads actually coached teams their own children played on way back then, just as they do now. However, it seems things are a bit different today or maybe my childhood view of the world was blind compared to the way I see things as a grandfather. BTW – this article also applies to grandparents who are involved in youth sports!

In today’s world, the term Daddy-Ball tends to have a negative connotation. Why is this? Well, in some cases when a parent coaches the team their child plays on, they place their blood-kin in “star” positions whether or not the child’s skills justify such assignments. It’s hard for any parent not to do this when they tend to live their lives vicariously through their children. They want their precious ones vaulted into the bright lights of stardom. Their child bats at the top of the lineup, pitches, and/or plays shortstop—those highly coveted positions on the field. This situation also applies to any sport or activity. Sometimes the child actually deserves the “prime” position, but in many cases, they don’t. Hence, the downside of Daddy-Ball becomes evident by the buzz in the stands from parents of children who are on the outside looking in.

A downside of Daddy-Ball occurs when capable children don’t receive the playing opportunities the “chosen” ones do. They play the less-glamorous positions in youth sports or sit the bench; they don’t have the opportunities to develop their skills to be the best they can be. I’ve seen this scenario play out many times with my grandchildren in the past ten years. If you disagree, I invite you to visit a ballpark catering to youth sports and observe the action for yourself.

However, Daddy-Ball doesn’t always have to be a negative thing. Thank goodness, it’s not. Many dads out there enjoy giving ALL kids the opportunity to shine. The following true story describes how my father handled Daddy-Ball long before the term existed.

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My dad coached the baseball team I played on when I was ten-years old. However, he was always harder on me than he was the rest of my teammates—he didn’t cut me any slack. In fact, he was downright tough on me—the way it should be for kids playing today. Tough love is not easy for any parent to practice, but it is necessary sometimes. In fact, it’s actually a good thing for many reasons.

VFW TeamDadSon2

Putting my humble nature aside for a moment, I thought I was a decent player. I was a pitcher—that coveted position on youth baseball teams. Unfortunately, I allowed my “average” physical prowess to warp my mind before a game one night. It was my turn to be the starting pitcher, but I opened my big mouth and told Dad I wasn’t feeling well and didn’t want to pitch. However, that was not true—I felt fine and really did want to pitch. Yes, I had a lot of growing up to do. I was an immature kid who wanted to hear praises for my nonexistent superb-pitching skills—to hear that the team needed me to pitch in order for us to win the game. I was selfish, foolish even, and deserved what came my way.

What followed was the best thing that could have happened to me. After making my statement, my dad didn’t say a word to me—no begging, no praising, nothing! He announced the lineup for the game by calling out the batting order, citing the names and positions for the players. To the dismay of my selfish-little mind, he didn’t say my name. In fact, Dad had drawn a line through my name on the scorecard and replaced it with another boy. It was a boy who had never pitched before.

M Pitching BW1

After the first inning, I questioned Dad why I was not pitching and he unsympathetically answered, “Son, we need our best pitcher on the mound tonight. You aren’t the man for the job because you feel bad. At least that’s what you told me, so I did as you asked. Your position is to sit on the bench and cheer for the team. Support the pitcher on his first outing. You ought to be able to that regardless of how bad you feel.”

I thought, “That didn’t go as planned. I should have kept my big mouth shut about feeling bad!

Dad sat my wise-rear-end attitude on the bench—for the entire game! I didn’t play at all that night, but our team still won without me. The new pitcher did a wonderful job on the mound. I guess there’s nothing like having a little salt rubbed in an open wound to help amplify a life-lesson—a self-inflicted wound at that. Welcome to the real world Little Tommy—it’s tough out there!

BenchWarmerHat1

I’m not sure what Dad would have said to me had the team lost that game, but I feel sure this story would have a slightly different conclusion and a few additional lessons-learned. I grew up that night and learned some valuable life-lessons that have served me well. Dad’s silent method of making me think hard about what I had done was a perfect example of good Daddy-Ball and parenting. He knew I didn’t feel bad, but he got his point across in a subtle yet effective manner. Here’s what I learned the hard way.

  • Never say you feel bad when you don’t—life will pass you by in a flash.
  • Suck it up and be a bulldog when things don’t go your way.
  • Don’t be selfish—the world of “me-me” does not exist, nor should it.
  • There is always someone waiting to fill your shoes—you are not the only fish in the sea, so always give your best.
  • All kids on a team deserve an opportunity in the spotlight of prime positions.
  • Be careful what you wish for because you just might get it.
  • If you think you’re good/great at what you do, don’t seek praise; it will come your way if truly deserved.
  • Be ready to serve in any “position” you’re called upon to do, and that includes sitting on the bench to give others a chance.
  • You never know what you can do until you give it your best.

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In retrospect, my dad helped me more that night than I thought at the time—he taught me about life in the real world. For that, I am truly blessed. So, if you are a parent-coach, don’t forget the other players on your team. They deserve a chance to learn and grow their skills too. They may actually be better than your blood-kin. If not, at least you gave them a chance to rise to the occasion, and you may have helped a future shining star take the first step to the Hall of Fame.

As a coach, parent, or grandparent, we should praise a child when he/she does well, teach them how to face adversity, and be there to help when they fall down. However, be careful not to praise children for mediocre performances for you may create a little monster if you do. Learning from one’s mistakes is a good teacher since we will not always succeed in everything we do.

1 Peter 5:6-7 (KJV)

Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for He careth for you.

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TEAM – A FOUR-LETTER WORD

TEAM – a simple four-letter word a child can say without getting into trouble—no matter how young they are. In fact, the sooner a child understands the importance of the TEAM concept, the better. The old cliché “all for one and one for all” might be a bit trite, but when it comes to TEAM, it’s an absolute requirement for success! Otherwise the team fades into a blur…

TeamBlurred

Every person (player) on a team has God-given talents and they should use those talents to the best of their ability to help contribute to the overall outcome of the team. Adults should teach youth to play as a team—to win as a team—to lose as a team. If a child’s talents vaults him/her to shining-star status, that’s great for the player and the team, but the child should remain true to the team concept.

Unfortunately, being a good team player is not always easy for our youth—thoughts of “self” takes control of the mind sometimes. The following personal experience is a perfect example of the importance of each individual’s contribution to the team.

Throughout my youth, I thought I was a good team player. I played on baseball teams for many years; I was confident that I knew the team concept very well. Sometimes I was a shining-star and sometimes I was the goat, but I always supported my teammates and the team above self. However, when I participated in a Leadership/Team-Building exercise as a teenager, the results were most humbling. I allowed “self” to cloud my judgment.

THE EXERCISE

I was involved in an exercise on a team consisting of six guys seated at a round table. For this particular task, the instructor gave each person a puzzle consisting of ten pieces. The object was for all six members of the team to assemble their individual puzzles as fast as possible. The one condition given to us was there could be no talking among team players, but all players could use gestures.

The clock started and I completed my ten-piece puzzle very quickly. I sat there wondering why the other players were having such a hard time completing the simple task. Each of them had all but one of their pieces in place. I shrugged my shoulders at them in a gesture of “come on guys—what’s wrong with you people? Time is running out!” They all began pointing at my completed puzzle, raised their index finger, and then pointed back toward themselves. Remember—no talking allowed.

TeamPuzzle

Several minutes passed, and their gestures became a bit more animated. A few more minutes passed and the instructor asked me if I was finished.

“Sir, yes, Sir!” I replied

“Are you sure about that, Mr. Tatum?”

Yes, I was sure; the puzzle was right in front of me. Was the instructor blind? I replied, “Sir, yes, Sir! It was simple task, Sir! I don’t know why the other guys are having so much trouble with this, Sir.”

“Mr. Tatum, why do you think the other team members are pointing at your puzzle?”

“Sir, I guess they are in awe of how fast I completed my puzzle, Sir.”

The instructor then said, “Guys, Mr. Tatum’s performance caused all of you to be captured by the enemy. All of you are now prisoners of war. Your team failed the test and the future looks grim! Mr. Tatum failed to use his God-given talents to help the team.”

“Sir, what? What did I do, Sir? Sir, I completed my puzzle! I did my part, Sir!”

The instructor then proceeded to explain to the class the results of my actions, or lack thereof. I felt as though lightning had struck the foundation of my perception of the TEAM concept. I was devastated—my poor judgement and performance caused our team to fail. I failed the team!

As it turned out, my puzzle had five pieces that were necessary for the others to complete their puzzles. They each had one piece that would fit perfectly into my puzzle if we exchanged one piece. The only way to complete the six puzzles was for me to exchange one piece with each of them.

TeamPuzzlePcs

The instructor came to me after class and said, “I know you’re feeling down on yourself, but don’t. You were “setup” to fail, which actually made the exercise a successful learning experience. It didn’t matter which one of you had the ‘key’ puzzle. Any of the other five would most likely have failed also. I’ve given this exercise to hundreds of people and they have all failed.

“Before the exercise started, I told the others you had one piece of their puzzle and they had one of yours. Their task was to convince you to exchange your piece for their “bad” piece. They all failed to do that, which accomplished the second objective of the exercise—failure of each individual. Had all of you completed the puzzles, there would be no lessons-learned.

“Remember my instruction to all of you—no talking, but gestures were acceptable. I didn’t place any restrictions on the type of gestures that were acceptable. Nor did I say the team players couldn’t ask me questions. Had each team member simply asked me if they could walk around the table and exchange their “bad” piece with you, all puzzles could have been completed. You were on the hot seat today by design, but the other five will have their turn there tomorrow. Rest well tonight, son. You did exactly what I expected you to do.”

The first lesson-learned was simply being part of a team is not enough. It takes much more than that. Each member must give their best and work for the good of the team in order for the team to be successful. When one player doesn’t support the others, the entire team will likely fail.

The second lesson-learned was a good team leader looks after all team members by anticipating their needs and making sure they have all the tools necessary to complete the task at hand. Help those who are struggling is a must. You should always believe in yourself and your abilities. However, when you start thinking that you are the shining-star and your teammates are useless, your mind closes to the needs of others. Your God-given gifts no longer serve the team—you become selfish.

The third lesson-learned was to be open-minded—think outside the box and do not impose unnecessary restrictions on yourself or the team. Examine each situation and consider ALL alternatives available to complete the task. Do not limit the possibilities that can lead to success.

I failed on all counts, but I learned those three valuable lessons in the process. Since that day, I have always given my best to support the team and all my teammates. Although the team may still fail, it won’t be because I failed to give one-hundred percent of my best. Self-imposed failure is not an option!

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 (NIV)

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.

Proverbs 27:17 (NIV)

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.

1 Corinthians 12:17-20 (NIV)

If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

Tom Tatum – Author – 2015

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YOUTH AND ROLE MODELS

YouthRoleModels

A child comes into this world without knowledge of love, hate, prejudice, greed, good or evil. They learn these things by observing the actions and words of others—role models.

Role models definitely play an integral “role” in shaping the behavior of young people. As children age, they want to “be like” and “act like” their role models; they start emulating things these individuals say and do. It’s great when those actions and words are what we want for our youth, but that’s not always the case.

When I think of role models, the first that come to mind are famous people—athletes, movie stars, singers, etc. Folks like Rickie, Jordon, Tiger, Denzel, George, Julia, Carrie, and you. Who? That’s right, even YOU!

The good news is you don’t have to be famous to be one. In many ways, we are all role models because we influence the actions, behavior, and character of children. That’s a bit scary isn’t it!

Here’s the bad news—YOU ARE a role model for youth in some way, shape, or form. Think about that for a moment. Young folks observe your actions, reactions, and listen to things you say, even when you don’t realize they are doing it. Yep, they’re always watching and listening! Your actions and words often influence (good or bad) their young-impressionable minds. For some of them, YOU may be the most important person in their lives. As a parent, grandparent, relative, friend, coach, or teacher you may spend a lot of time with them. Enjoy the time with them, but try to be a good influence also.

Unfortunately, you are not always at your best. That applies to everyone! There are times in life when you have bad days; it happens! Your frustrations mount as one small thing after another builds pressure within you until you can’t take anymore. You burst like a pinpricked balloon, releasing a volley of gestures or words that are not always representative of good behavior. You react in ways you would never want young minds to witness or emulate.

I think I’ve seen the full spectrum of role-model behavior in my lifetime. For instance, as I watch my grandchildren performing in various events, typically sports, I’m sometimes shocked how some adults act around young folks. Saying it politely, I think some fans and coaches bring their pinpricked-balloon attitudes to the ballpark. They are not exactly the role models I want in the lives of my grandchildren, but they do serve a practical purpose—how NOT to act. More often than not, everyone acts civil, which is good and healthy for the character development of youth.

Just for fun, look at the short list below and select one individual from each line who you think would be the best role model for the young folks you know.

  1. Miley Cyrus                 Carrie Underwood
  2. Al Sharpton                  Dr. Ben Carson
  3. Tim Tebow                   Bruce “Caitlyn” Jenner
  4. Tiger Woods                 Jordan Spieth
  5. President Bush             President Obama
  6. Michelle Obama          Condoleezza Rice
  7. YOURSELF                Uncle Joe/Aunt Sue

I’m sure you get the picture. YOU are the best role model for the young folks in your corner of the world. Congratulations! There are probably days when you would choose Uncle Joe or Aunt Sue over yourself—especially on your burst-balloon days. Hang in there because you CAN make a big difference!

So, what are your actions and words teaching children in your sphere of influence? Do you need to do some minor tweaking to your efforts? I certainly do!

Be a good role model… the world could use another one!

 Your certificate: print, date, and sign it—go forth and make a difference!

CertificateRecognition

Tom Tatum – Author – 2015

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Feeling Blessed

Feeling Blessed

There are those among us who are making a difference in the lives of young people. I am truly thankful for those who do, and feel blessed when I hear about them. The following event will likely warm your heart.

Two of my grandsons are on the high school varsity football team. They have been practicing or strength training almost every day this summer. The evidence of their hard work is obvious by looking at their new physiques. However, what I am most proud of is the story they shared with me this week.

After a hot, exhausting football session Monday morning, a group of seven players, including my two grandsons, went to lunch at a local diner they had PrayingHandsnever been to. After their food arrived at the table, they blessed the meal before starting to eat. As hungry as they were, that’s truly amazing in itself. There were no coaches or parents around encouraging them to do this. They acted completely on their own.

Glad you can’t see me right now because I’m doing a “happy-dance” as I type this post! Trust me, it’s not a pretty sight, and I can assure you, “America’s Got Talent” is not likely to have me audition for the show. However, there are more reasons for me to be dancing.

What these players didn’t realize was others in the diner at the time noticed their open expression of faith. A gentleman walked over to their table and gave each of them a gold-colored coin with a cross and a dove on it. He told them he wanted to give it to them because they weren’t afraid to thank God in a public place. He blessed them and then left the diner.

Coins 2

The inscription on the cross side of the coin reads, “Mercy is when God spares you what you do deserve.” The inscription on the dove side reads, “Grace is when God gives you what you don’t deserve.

The story continues—as they tried to pay for their meals, the server told them the couple sitting at a nearby table had already paid the entire bill. They thanked the couple for their kindness and left the diner. The small gesture of their faith had touched the lives of others in a positive way.

The excitement in their voices as they told me the story was uplifting. They did not know the individuals who had expressed the acts of kindness. It is comforting to know that my grandsons and their friends are doing this, and kind people are going out of their way to reinforce the beliefs of our youth. It may take me a while before I stop doing my “happy-dance” for many reasons. I am so encouraged by stories like this.

God bless those strangers, the players, and all who are not afraid to show their faith in public.

Have a blessed day and give thanks before you start eating your meals—you can be God’s light to others also.

May God continue to bless America!

Tom Tatum – Author – 2015

Twitter: @TomTatumAuthor         LinkedIn: TomTatum1

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