The MessageEli 11.11 has had much success in the last few months. Too much, almost.
We went out to play tennis last week, and I decided to try something new. Tennis--once you know how to hit the ball--is mostly about moving your feet and seeing the ball clearly. And not thinking at all.
I tell him all the time to see the shadows on the ball, because it creates a level of visual focus that goes beyond what he normally sees. Look for smaller details on a larger object, and it forces your brain to zero in.
I decided to write a message on the ball.
"Okay, this is a special ball," I said when we began hitting. "I wrote a message on it, and your job is tell me the message."
"How am I supposed to see that?" he asked.
"Don't know," I said. "It's not my job to read the message. It's yours. So focus. Two words."
We started hitting, and after about twenty shots, he shouted "I think I see a 'U'!"
"Very good," I said.
Another twenty shots or so. "O!' he said.
"Also correct," I said. "One more letter in the first word."
Another thirty shots. "Y!" he said. "The first word is 'YOU'!"
"That's excellent," I said. "I didn't even know if you'd be able to read letters with the ball rotating."
"Ha!" he said. "One word down."
We kept hitting, and he was seeing letters more quickly. "C!" he said. Ten shots later, he said "U!"
"Two letters left," I said. "You're close."
Another thirty shots. "K!" he shouted.
"Only one left!" I said.
We hit for a while this time, then in the middle of rally, he shouted "S! I got it. It's 'YOU SUCK'!"
I started laughing. So did he.
"Seriously, Dad? 'You suck'?"
"Keep working hard," I said, "and maybe in another few months that message will be 'YOU SUCK LESS'."
He laughed. "I"m going to get there," he said.