Saturday, May 29, 2010

It's a GAME!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

This is a venting post. I'm warning you right now.

I never played sports as a kid--unless you count badminton, and you probably don't. (Still, I kicked serious tush at badminton.) A lot of girls my age played sports; softball and gymnastics kind of covered it though. Softball never interested me. And although I loved the idea of gymnastics and attended a 6-week summer camp for it, I lacked the upper-body strength for it that, I thought at the time, I would never develop, so why bother?

So I stuck to piano. And I was really good at it. I'm not talking concert pianist or even amazing soloist. I was a great accompanist. I was a great sight-reader. I was a great support to the chorus or choir or musical or trio or whoever needed me. I was great at being in the background and I was completely fine there. I was a team player, even if I didn't play a sport.

My kids are all involved in soccer. They've tried t-ball and baseball and swimming and football and basketball, and soccer just happens to be where they've all ended up, which is fine by me. I love soccer. It's fast and I actually get the rules, so I can follow it. I'm not saying I watch the World Cup or have any clue about professional soccer in general. I'm saying that if I'm going to spend my Saturday mornings watching my kids play a game, I'm glad it's soccer.

Until this morning.

My daughter had a game that my husband couldn't attend because he was rushing two of my sons to their games at the time. So I brought my book and sat on the sidewalk to watch. I'm not a huge cheerleader (another failed sport from junior high for me), but I do holler, "Go, Emma!" when the ball is near her. And that's about as vocal as the parents on her team get.

The other team, however, had some extremely vocal dads--the kind of dads who make soccer moms look timid, the kind of dads who make me want to yank my daughter from the sport before she forgets why she's playing: to have fun.

At one point, the ball came out of bounds and rolled toward me, there on the sidewalk. I stopped it and rolled it back toward the referee (a parent from the opposing team, since the official ref never showed up). A father with his camera snapping throughout the entire game sneered (yes, sneered) down at me and said, "This isn't like a library, you know." Then he went back to snapping photos and yelling at the kids on his team. "You're DOMINATING, today!!" Which they were. The score was 4-0 at that point. Their team had 4 subs to our 1.

A few minutes later, our team scored. One of the other team's dad started clapping then said, "Wait. That wasn't our team. Why am I clapping?" He glanced down at me, and I said, "Uh. Because it's just a game?"

These girls are 7 and 8. They're learning right now whether they love or hate sports, whether they love or hate the game. THE GAME, people!

By all means, cheer your kids on from the sidelines. They need you there. But cheer them on with the right cheers. Cheer them on with the cheers they need for life, not for the 40 minutes they're on the field. Make them love playing, not winning. Because they won't always win. And sometimes they'll need to cheer someone else on. Sometimes someone else needs those cheers more than they do, and they need to have enough confidence to know that's okay.

The game ended 4-3, all three of our team's goals scored in the last quarter while Emma and I yelled from the sideline, "Go! Nice try! Stay int there!" And never once did we tell the girls they were "DOMINATING!" Because scoring is by no means about dominating. And neither is winning.

Playing a sport is about playing on a team. And as a parent, you need to teach your kids that they need all the team members they can get in life, regardless of the jersey they're wearing.

So save your screaming fits and face paint and chest pounding for another game. And I'll just hope I'm nowhere near you in the stadium.

Thursday, May 27, 2010


Thursday, May 27, 2010

I've been busy lately, which isn't anything new, so I don't know why I bothered with "lately." And I like being busy, so that isn't a complaint. I like settling into bed at night with my to-do list all checked off and a few extra to-dos filled in as well. And then I like to form my to-do list for tomorrow because that list reminds me that I'm going to accomplish something again. And again. Sure, "a woman's work is never done." But I don't want it to be. Who really wants to feel like their work is done? Do you?

It's not the list that's been keeping me busy though--or at least not the physical one. It's the mental list. It's all the stuff I'm thinking about, the plots I'm untwisting, the holes I'm filling in, the plans I'm making, the worries I'm worrying about, the relationships I'm sad about or wondering about.

And that's the kind of busy that overwhelms me and steals my sleep and makes me grumpy and impatient and insecure.

So when something drags me out of that busyness, I'm immensely grateful. And most of the time, that something is due to my kids. I had three of those somethings this month that really stand out for me.

1. For my birthday a couple of weeks ago, my 11-year-old son gave me an owl painting he'd done himself, because he knows I love owls. He had worked on it on and off for a month or so (mostly off) and was upset with the finished product. I didn't care, of course. I was just glad he had given me something handmade. It's hanging on my wall as I type this.

And as sweet as his gift was, what was sweeter was a note I found that Emma had written him the night he finished the painting. It says, "Dear Owen, That picture is way better then myn. The picture is great. Mom won't care how it looks. All she cares about is that she loves you and cares for you. Nobady is perfect. From Emma" It's the "All she cares about is that she loves you" part that gets to me. I'm glad she knows that.

2. (And I hate enumerating these, but it is a list, after all.) For Mother's Day, my five-year-old made me a gift at school. I honestly can't remember what it was (please remember I just had a birthday, so I'm getting older and not being able to remember as much as I used to is excusable), but my favorite part of the gift was the card. In it, Ivan said, "My mommy is happy all of the time." That's not true. I just admitted that a few paragraphs ago. But if his perception is that I am happy all of the time, I couldn't be . . . happier.

3. Today was a horrible day with said five-year-old. That's not my "something," of course. It's simply what led up to me really needing the something that followed. After we read at bedtime, we sing a song. Tonight, Ivan wanted to sing. A solo. Many, many times. And the song was "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah." It's one of my favorite kids' songs. I can't remember a time when I didn't know the lyrics. And now he knows them. And we lay there on the floor together while he sang and sang and sang it. It was the perfect ending to the day and the perfect reminder that some times it's okay to put my lists aside.