The Pep Talk

Beagle had a bad day.  An ‘I hate my life’ kind of day.  The grievances were numerous.  Each one packed only a small punch, but strung together they gained impact.

It started with attention-seeking for a minor injury which morphed into an excuse to skip football practice. Next, a complaint of boredom and some push-back against serving time on a grounding consequence.

At first I reacted with defiant conviction, employing the ‘tough it out’ message.  But when tears welled up and a thirteen year old voice started shaking, I backed off.  Clearly, Beagle’s complaints were a cover for a bigger issue.

With a little prodding the truth revealed itself – a personality conflict with a coach that became too big to contain in one young boy.  Now this, I could handle.  Dealing with difficult people is a challenge I relish. And I am all too willing to impart my expansive wisdom in the life skills department.  Teachable moments can be so gratifying!

After several minutes of listening to my monologue, Beagle patiently advised, “I don’t need a lecture, Mom.”

“I’m not lecturing!  I’m inspiring!” I clarified, and sent him off to practice with a ‘go get ’em, Tiger’ and a love punch.

When Beagle returned from practice, I held my breath, unsure of what to expect.  I tiptoed around trying to gauge his mood and waiting for him to speak first.  With satisfaction he said, “I felt some redemption at practice. Caught a forty yard pass. Twice. And looked like a hero.”

The corners of my mouth turned up.  Surely the catalyst for success was my inspirational talk.  Not wanting to steal Beagle’s thunder (but feeling pretty smug) I praised him for plowing through a challenging situation with character.

But I couldn’t hold back.  Assessing his lightheartedness, I deemed it safe to ask, “So, do you think the positive outcome of the night had anything to do with my pep talk?”

Beagle froze, fork in mid-air, and gazed at me askance.  I could almost hear his brain weighing possible responses.  He decided on this, “Mom, if it makes you feel good, then yes, it had everything to do with your pep talk.”  And he quietly returned to his dinner.

He’s too good to me, my Beagle.  And wise for a young man, having already learned to tell women what they want to hear.  At least I’ve imparted that valuable piece of wisdom!

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