Kids can teach us great life lessons. We only need to stop, look and listen, and often with our hearts as well as our minds.

My grandson, Sam, joined a wrestling club at the age of ten. It was hard for me to believe, but this was considered “late” in the wrestling country of Northern Nevada. Here, tots begin learning takedowns and half nelsons as soon as they can crawl. Weekend regional competitions that pit children of similar age and weight against one another in high school gyms are family affairs and hugely popular.

Poor Sam. I don’t think he realized what he was getting into. He’d walk out on the mat, shake hands with a similar-sized opponent, and promptly get pinned on his back. This experience would be repeated over and over and over. Sam would ride home with his mom and dad with bruises and welts on his little body, and no medals to show for it.

Others might have quit, but not Sam. He’s made out of the grit and fortitude I am still striving to attain. Sam stuck with wrestling. He practiced hard with a couple of his friends. He grew stronger and deftly mastered the techniques.

Now, when Sam goes to regional wrestling events, he’s the one that does the pinning (and only seconds after the match begins). Now, Sam’s name is the one going up on the winner’s side of the bracket board. Sam’s ride home is full of medals, self-confidence and the earned pride that comes with achieving one’s goals.

A few weeks ago, Sam suffered a broken collarbone that ended his wrestling season. I asked him if he planned on continuing to wrestle the following year. He gave me that special grin boys give to inquiring adults and said he hadn’t made up his mind. I knew to ask no further.

The beauty is that Sam may still choose to end his wrestling career at the tender age of twelve, but the life lesson of working hard to earn what you strive for will be with him for his entire lifetime.

That’s a lesson we all can pick up…at any age.