Jared and I have enjoyed March Madness (NCAA men's basketball tournament) for over a decade. We always fill out brackets, do a little trash talking to each other, and glue ourselves to the tv (and our phones) to see how the games will go.
We used to place some sort of wager on whose bracket would do better. Our system is one point per correct first round pick, two points per correct second round pick, three points per correct elite eight pick, four points per correct final four pick, five points per correct final two pick, and six points for choosing the champion. There are lots of other scoring systems, but this one is simple.
Our "bets" were usually silly things like having to do the dishes. But in recent years (since having children), we (I) just haven't been able to watch the regular season at all. So it's even harder to fill out our brackets come March.
Do you have any idea how hard it is for a perfectionist to fill out a March Madness bracket? It ain't easy. I fill out the top and bottom games of each region first (1 vs. 16 and 2 vs. 15). Then the panic sets in.
I stare at each match-up and agonize over one simple fact: I might get this wrong.
I sense your eyes rolling. That's okay. I know it's just college basketball. But my point is that this stupid perfectionism pops up at the most mundane times. Who cares if I lose a bet to my husband, who probably wouldn't rub it in more than 30 seconds?
Yet somehow my brain won't stop playing the same old familiar recording: Be careful what you choose. You might get it wrong. Wrong is unacceptable. It doesn't matter what this choice is worth. Getting anything wrong is not allowed.
So this year I found a way to enjoy March Madness even more than usual (yes, I do still really enjoy it despite my annoying critical brain). This year, Nolan filled out a bracket!!
We explained the process to him and helped him a little. He chose his own abbreviations for some of the schools.
For example, "Le" stands for Louisville because it's the first and last letters of their name. He also kept mispronouncing school names (I don't blame him). He was so cute filling out his bracket!
You can also see our system of highlighting correct picks (with the same green highlighter pencil we've used for about a decade) and crossing out in red the incorrect picks. Stinkin' UNLV got all three of us.
We were even able to use this as a quick parenting moment. Two days ago, Nolan was upset and telling me about how all the kids at school get to watch stuff that he's not allowed to watch. He feels left out. He feels like the kids are making fun of him for not participating with them. So Jared pointed out that Nolan was getting to do a "big kid" thing by filling out a bracket and participating in the tournament with us. It seemed to pacify Nolan for the moment.
There's such a big difference in interest level between someone who has filled out a bracket and someone who hasn't. Nolan went from "why are watching so much basketball" to cheering for the teams that he picked.
I just have to point out the obvious analogy: when you invest in something, you're more interested in the outcome. The only thing at stake in our house this year is pride. But that's enough to make us care about how these games go. It made me think of people in my life. When I invest time, energy, prayers, and even sometimes money in the people in my world, I care about the choices they make. I want to see them succeed. I want to see them grow spiritually and enjoy life to the fullest. I want to see them growing to the point of investing in other people.
And now I'm done preaching. :)
I have to check the schedule for today's games. I hope you have a great day, whether you're watching March Madness or not!