I get knocked down

I'm regularly impressed by the life lessons soccer teaches. Ugh. That sentence. Sounds like something an overindulgent, overextended soccer mom might trumpet.

Although organized team sports weren't a part of my own childhood, I've heard all those "life lessons" cliches for years and knew there was some truth to them. Just how much truth is something I'm discovering through my own sons.

Yes, there are the usual ones: patience, determination, focus, discipline. All of which can be learned outside of sport. Still, there is something about learning to accept and recover from mistakes, defeat and embarrassment in a very public way, that is powerful.

It may seem cruel to thrust a child with a sensitive, emotional nature into this arena. A child like Ethan. But that's the beauty of it. Ethan wants to participate. The thrill and enjoyment are all wrapped up in lessons he can't get away from. He keeps going back for more.

Yesterday, during an intense tournament game, Ethan made an awful blunder. As his opponent took a shot on goal, Ethan attempted to jump up and head the ball away. Instead, the ball bounced backward into his own goal.

Oh, the groaning. And that was just me.

I knew Ethan would not react well and sure enough, he shuffled off the field, in tears. His coach, not unkindly, shouted words I was mumbling under my own breath, "Get over it, get over it!" and forced him to continue. And, just like that, he did.

The game was a 3-1 loss. Ethan was predictably a black cloud on the way to the car. And yet, by the time we reached home, he was mostly recovered, already full of enthusiasm for the next game. Measurably different from past years.

Even a joyful life is tempered by mistakes, adversity and things we just plain don't like. I want my children to respond with grace and resilience rather than wallow in the sidelines of shame and self-pity. Something I'm still trying to learn myself.

Just before a crushing defeat


Leslie said...

My goodness, I'm sitting here nearly in tears after reading this post! Beautifully written. And boy, all parents just want to hug a kid when something like this happens - it's just heartbreaking! Your son sounds amazing. He's learning to bounce back at this young age - he will do well in life. I'm happy to read that he did recover from it already, but I sure do hope he scores an amazing goal in the next game... because I'm a mom and those are the things we hope for :)

Heidi said...

Great recovery, E. So wise yet so young. Liane... never thought when we were little preschool moms that you would be that soccer mom :) hee hee hee :) Love you, dear :)