Rhonda Begos-Zolecki

Rhonda Begos-Zolecki


How many fathers have been asked this question by their sons? Even by their daughters? Can we play catch outside for a little bit? And how many times have we said “no” to this, because we just didn’t have enough time?


When I think about the times with my son, especially after I quit drinking, and I remember the countless times we’ve spent talking and learning about things, I know now that these experiences were not just about the actual activity; they were life lessons. I remember when my son and I went to a festival, and there was rock climbing. Keaton was 4, and saw all of these other kids crying at the prospect of climbing this wall. And he looked at me and asked me if I thought he could do it, and I told him I knew he could, but he had to believe it.


Every step he took up that wall, I saw him take his time and watch what he did wrong the step before, and how he could improve the next step, and all the while, I just kept encouraging him. I thought he was embarrassed by my talking, but when he made it to the top, and got down, he told me that my talking helping him feel like he could do it. So I never stopped.


When he played baseball at a young age, right before the season started, my son broke his arm. He was clearly devastated after he came out of the emergency room. And when we walked into Walgreens to get his medication, he just sobbed in my arms and asked me “how am I going to play baseball with a broken arm?” I asked “how do deaf people get college degrees without hearing? How do blind people move around without sight? They find a way, and they’re smart about it. But they find a way.”


My son’s first game with his broken arm and a case, brought him to the plate to bat. He hit that ball so hard, and made it around to all of the bases scoring a run. I waited for him at home plate, and took a photo that I carry around with me all of the time. That look of determination and that look of “I got this”. It’s almost as if he didn’t even know his arm was broken.


And the time my son asked if I could tell him about my life. And without getting into a lot of detail, I basically told him it was hard. But that if God told me I had to go through all of it again, and have him in the end, I would do it all over because it was worth it. And he just hugged me and thanked me.


So playing catch – talking with your child and getting to know them….teaching them how you learned, so that they can learn….when they drop the ball, teaching them that’s it’s okay, just try it again….when they can’t hit as hard, or throw as far, teaching them that it takes time and patience….when they get frustrated with themselves for not doing good enough, teaching them that we have to give ourselves space to learn, and that even if we don’t throw as far as someone else, it doesn’t make them better or us worse…When they get angry at us for throwing too hard, teaching them how to say “back off a little please” so that the person on the other end can hear your concerns, rather than your screams. When they back off from throwing hard, because they don’t think they can – showing them how to as hard as they can, and let them make those mistakes so that they can learn the correct way. When they say “I can’t do this” and teaching them that saying “I CAN’T” is what prevents us from “I CAN”.


When they ask “CAN WE PLAY CATCH?” What they’re really saying is “TEACH ME ABOUT LIFE.”


Take the time to do that:) You’ll be surprised how much more they learn than just how to throw a ball. 

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