Embrace your strengths, work on your weaknesses…

Because there wasn’t enough soccer being played in our home, both Zach and Zandra tried out for the school soccer teams and made them.

It means sometimes Zach plays soccer after school with the school team, then heads to his regular soccer. Even he admitted he’s tired:(

It also means that there’s more soccer games for us to attend. This past week, both kids, had a soccer tournament during the day – on the same day! The “job” thing that I do and earn a living from is really quite inconvenient on these kind of days. Anyhow, both Rob and I made it to Zandra’s last game, and the last two of Zach’s (Zandra’s were almost all in the morning and Zach’s were later in the day).

They both played amazing and their teams both progressed to the next tournament (yah more missed work!)

However, at Zach’s game we were witness to some disgruntled parents.

I swear, boys don’t have problems until their mothers get involved.

The coach of the team is a hard core competitor. Great guy- he happens to also be Sam’s teacher this year, so we know him quite well. His mentality is not the “everyone makes the team, everyone gets the same game time, everyone gets a trophy” kinda guy. He wants to win. He told the boys upfront that he won’t worry about “fair game time”, but will play whoever is playing their best that day. He didn’t select some players for the team because he said they just weren’t good enough. Ouch. Not the thing to say in our neighborhood.

While we stood cheering for our team on the sidelines, we got to overhear some conversations that a couple of Moms had. In fact, one of these Moms came up to my friend and says “aren’t you glad your son joined the team to be a benchwarmer?” She then encouraged my friend to go over to the coach and complain and make a scene that her kid wasn’t playing as much —- much like the scene she had made earlier that Rob and I were witness to.

Ugly. Embarrassing.

I’m sure your 12 year old son loved hearing you berate the coach about how upset you were that your son wasn’t being played, it just wasn’t fair, he’s been sitting on the bench too long etc.

THAT made it so much better for your kid. Hope his friends heard it all too.

I did appreciate the teacher’s response that “life is not fair, and sports will teach kids that.”

So, you may be thinking that I wasn’t upset simply because my kid plays well
and was on non stop.

I was secretly hoping one of the women would say something to me. I had it all planned out what I would say. But no one asked (they ignored me – I’m not part of their “stay at home” crowd), so I’ll just blog about it.

Here’s what I was thinking:

Yes, my kid has been on the field nonstop (and he has scored 3 out of the 7 goals that they scored all day). And I’m so glad he has played all day because THIS is his thing. THIS is where he gets to feel good about himself. THIS is where the ridiculous number of hours he puts into soccer every day, every week, year round pays off.

I don’t see you mothers caring if your kid comments to my child (or any other child) that he/she is not smart enough (What? You don’t know your kid can be outright arrogant and mean when it comes to his math skills?)  You don’t seem to mind my kid being put in the back row for a musical performance, or a dance recital. You certainly wouldn’t mind if my kid wasn’t selected to spell words at a spelling B. You really don’t care that my kid may struggle with reading, or keeping his/her stuff organized, or he/she struggles with long jump and running for distance. You also don’t seem to mind throwing a birthday party and not inviting my kid.

Heck, no. You are just worried that your kid is not playing as much soccer as mine for ONE day and it’s “not fair.”

Well, helicopter Mom, life is “not fair” – at least in the way you are looking at fairness. (Rob commented that he couldn’t stand being so close to the Moms because he couldn’t hear himself think past the noise of their helicopter blades!)

Fairness is every kid getting what they need. Not every kid getting exactly the same treatment.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not so good at a lot of things.

If I was playing soccer, I’d be the bench warmer. But thrilled to have at least made the team! Now, would it be nice if I was given the opportunity to play more so that would give me a chance to get better? Sure. But maybe not at a tournament It’s only in the movies where they put the kid on the field who is not the best player and is the reason they win the game. Not reality.

The reality is, or at least what I’m teaching my kids, you aren’t going to be good at everything. That’s ok. Embrace your strengths, work on your weaknesses, but don’t feel bad that you’re not the best at everything! Know what you’re good at and be proud. Know what you are not good at, work hard at it, get better at it, but please please please,  celebrate with those who are good at it! You know, maybe they could help you get better. But not if you are bitter at them for being better.

I guess having 5 kids comes in handy sometimes. There is built in competition between all my kids – some excel and some crash – in the same things.

But man, do I have some seriously talented kids. Just in different areas. We want to celebrate their strengths and help with their weaknesses. Fairness, is making sure they all have opportunities to develop their skill sets – that’s what I want to aim for. That’s how I want to make “life fair” for them.

We left the soccer game feeling the eyes burning in our backs from these Moms. Sorry they weren’t able to celebrate in the overall teams success, never mind my kids’s success. Sorry that they couldn’t set the example of being a team player, and being ok with not being the star on the team. Sorry that they likely made their kid feel worse than he did by just sitting on the bench and playing a bit less time.

We just went home and celebrated what my kid happens be good at.

And tomorrow, we’ll keep working at what he is not good at too.


Embrace your strengths, work on your weaknesses… — 9 Comments

  1. I’ve been on both sides of this fence with the same child and on the one hand, I get it… life isn’t fair and for the most part, I support that. My kids can’t and should excel at everything, because that’s life. On the other… when the team is up by a gagillion points or losing by the same gagillion with no chance of the outcome being changed either way, who would it hurt to put the B team in? I’ve watched my son, who truly loves football, and puts his heart into each practice and game, be crushed because he didn’t get on the field for even one play when his team was running away with it, but his coaches were trying to stick it to the other team’s coaches. Needless to say, we don’t play in THAT league anymore!

    All that said, good sportsmenship is the name of the game in our house so you wouldn’t hear a thing from me on the sidelines nor would you take flack from me because your child is better than mine!

    • It’s the good sportsmanship piece that is important. But, I agree, I have been on both sides of the fence with the same kid, but with different issues. My kid who thrives in one area, doesn’t do well in the other. It’s hard to know what to do- because you want your child to always know that their strengths and weaknesses are all part of who he/she is and you LOVE that. I wonder if the child feels you are advocating for them by talking to the coach – or if they feel you are feeling sorry for them and that makes them feel worse because they feel they have let you down?

  2. This was a post that made me think…and hard….I don’t know exactly what my view is? I was very surprised to read this post from you..as I have always thought of your viewpoints with fairness as front and center. Made me realize that your perspectives seems to have really changed on fairness over the last little while with the “life is not fair” motto. I was shocked! But also agree in so many ways!

    In terms of sports, my only hesitation is that before the teen years I would assume that there needs to be an element of having fun on the teams and that is what the parents and kids sign up for. So I think someone who sits on the bench all the time can’t be having that much fun(unless of course a double or triple letter team where fun is not the goal and winning is the whole purpose) By 13yrs old I think you should only be on the team if you are great.

    I agree that Mom is too pushy in some ways. In other ways, I disagree and think she needs to advocate for her child. However she should definitely be teaching him some team spirit alone the way too.

    I just think in school kids who lag behind a bit are taken care of. In the orchestra or school play given a chance to stand as a tree if they don’t have the lead role. Where do they fit into sports?

    Just an observation from a girl who is 100% for the “life is not fair” when it comes to raising kids. (or maybe I too have altered a bit one this?) But I also am a strong believer of advocating for your child with teachers, coaches and life in general. Being pushy enough to make sure your kid has a place wherever that may be, since if the parent does not push no one will.

    Thought provoking post!
    (and very curious to discuss the fairness piece and hear your thoughts!)

  3. I absolutely LOVE this part of the post.
    Fairness is every kid getting what they need. Not every kid getting exactly the same treatment.
    This is exactly what fairness is. And every parent should remember that.
    So well done.-Ashley

  4. I love this so much and I want to send it to my mom. She, the mother of five kids – some blood some step, all hers. We all five were so different – my mom sat in school plays with stage moms. She sat on soccer fields with soccer moms. She sat in dance studios with dance moms. She sat at football games with one who played football, and one who played marching band at football games. I think she has seen it all and she is very grounding to me because my kids are still too young for this sort of stuff but it’s coming.

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