Jean Croker Petke

How’s Your Swagger?

How’s Your Swagger?

The Boy (nearly 4-year-old-grandson) loves balls and any sports that use balls.
His favorites are football, baseball, basketball, and soccer. His endless energy and enthusiasm for playing ball outlasts his parents and grandparents.

Two weeks ago he began basketball class with fifteen other kids his age. They proudly donned their jerseys, which hung nearly to their knees. As the coach directed, they lined up, they ran, they held the ball, they bounced the ball. I don’t know who was more amazing: the coach who had control of a bunch of toddlers, or the toddlers who did as the coach said.

The kids lined up for their chance to shoot a basket. The basket is short but still much taller than the kids. Some barely get the ball over their heads, some shots are sideways, some go behind the shooter. The Boy’s first chance at the basket: dribble, pause, aim, shoot. Rim shot. Close. Very close


In the second class, the kids line up for more basket shooting. At his turn, The Boy dribbles four times, shoots, and the ball goes in. The coach gives him another try. He dribbles. He shoots. The balls goes in. Bystanders are hooting and hollering at his success. He returns to the line to wait another turn.

Here’s the best part. There’s a little swagger as he walks to the end of the line. No expression on his face, no glances to his parents, no high fives with other kids, but a swing of his shoulders and hips, and a lightness in his steps, that says, “I did it! I’ve got this!”

A kid with a swagger is cute. An adult with a swagger can be pretentious, superior, egotistical, and so many other things.

What impressed me, and set me pondering, was The Boy’s tiny, nearly imperceptible swagger — a self-congratulation of his achievement. Close inspection of the parental video was necessary to see it at all. He didn’t need a gold star or a trophy for recognition. He knew he had done well.

So how is it for us?

  • Do we recognize, acknowledge, and own our own achievements, whether large or medium or very tiny?
  • Do we wait for someone else to acknowledge our achievement, before it feels legitimate or real?
  • Do we need to tell someone about what we’ve done, hoping for some praise?
  • Are we disappointed if no one notices what we’ve achieved?

Or . . .

  • Can we congratulate ourselves? Can we say, “Yes, I did it!”
  • Can we get our swagger on, in our own private space, dance a jig, just for us?

Most of us like some recognition for our work and accomplishments. Some of us would rather not be in the spotlight. Some of us have excuses for why our performance was less than it should have been.

But why wait for someone else to encourage and validate our efforts when we can do it for ourselves?

Get your swagger on!!

Until next Tuesday . . .



4 Comments - Leave a Comment
  • Pam Redman -

    I loved it! The funnier thing is that the GRANDMA’S who were absent from that 2nd practice spotted the swagger right away in the video!! I am looking forward to this Saturday when the Grandma & Papa John entourage will be back in the cheering section at basketball practice to eye witness more of that swagger!

    • jcpetke -

      Saturday is guaranteed to be another fun morning at the basketball court. I’m glad I’ll get to be there again.

  • Karen Baker -

    I don’t have grandchildren – yet – but I so enjoyed your description of The Boy! I can just see his swagger!!

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