Friday, September 30, 2011

A Tale of Two Kiddies (Part 2)

After the first game, NO ONE will forget my daughter!  I would love to say they will remember her because she left a lasting impression of greatness and wonder like Niagra Falls, the Grand Canyon or Fruity Pebbles.  I would love to say they will remember her because her performance inspired others to achieve like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Tom Hanks or the “Miss Congeniality” Sandra Bullock.  It would even have been nice if she were remembered as the beautiful little girl whose smile lit up the field and warmed the hearts of all who gazed upon her.  I assure you, that was so far from the truth Momma L. and Daddy Que wondered if that girl still existed.

As established in my previous post A Tale of Two Kiddies (Part 1) there was “another” team on the field.  So, our 5YO was going to learn her first lesson in competition.  She didn’t like that lesson.  She didn’t like the fact that if she had the ball someone from the other team would keep trying to taking it.  She expressed her disgust when I told her that’s how the game is played.  I’m sure if she had it her way they would all part like the Red Sea and she could walk right down the middle in her own little personal Homecoming parade (with her as the queen of course).  Having all of those other kids trying to take the ball from her was just “too hard!”

She DID have an answer for that though.  An amazing plan went through her head!  I wish should would have told me her plan so I could explain to her that it wouldn’t work.  But, I guess you have to learn some things on your own.  So, the next time the ball was in her area she did the smart thing and just bent down and grabbed it.  Just like America, my daughter ignored the fact that the game was cleverly called “Football” for a reason.  (At least she didn’t just completely change the name to Soccer or something like that.  That would be absurd!)

This whole “no-hands” thing in soccer really confused her.  And while they were explaining it to her, you could see the frustration on her face.  She just didn’t understand why she couldn’t use her hands.  I know the game is called Football and I really wanted to explain to her the fun of just using your feet.  But to be completely honest... I have the same reservations with the sport.  Just pick up the ball and throw it!  You have 2 good hands and arms... use them!  Just my opinion.  So, I really couldn’t argue against her logic because I’m in the same boat.  But our problem with the rules didn't change the rules. So they let the other team kick a penalty kick and the game started again.  This time was different, though, because now my daughter knew if the ball comes near her she must use her feet (no matter how effective her hands would be) to stop it or kick it.

She picked up on that rule much better than I expected!  The next time the ball was near her she went through the mental check list.  One... They are trying to take the ball from me so I must try to take the ball from them. (CHECK!) Two... I am not supposed to use the these absolutely... ummm... “handy” hands to move the ball. (CHECK!)  And Three... (She picked up on this one all by herself) If I kick the ball into the net people will cheer really loudly for me!  I was really proud of the logical progression her brain made and how that translated into play on the field.

She applied all that she knew, came up with a plan and it led to her first goal of the season!  The other team had the ball.  She ran up to them and took that ball right from their feet.  (Flawlessly, I might add.) She snatched the ball and proceeded to beautifully give THEM a lesson on how the game was supposed to be played.  She dribbled left.  She dribbled right.  She avoided defender after defender.  It was a work of art!  The goal keeper didn’t have a clue what was going on.  The dazzling display had everyone mesmerized.  My daughter saw the goalie standing between her and the cheering she knew she would receive for kicking this ball into the goal.  She stared the goalie down.  She brought her leg back and kicked!  The goal keeper went right.  The ball went left.  GOOOOOOAAAALLLLL!!!!!  

The crowd went wild!!!  This was an exciting moment to say the least.  And normally, this would have been one of the proudest moments of my parenthood.  I wanted to get up and scream like half of the people in the crowd.  But, it’s a weird moment when you daughter scores her first goal in her first game.... and it’s for the OTHER team! So my wife and I were not on the side that was cheering.  But I can’t fault my daughter for her thoughts.  It’s the old “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em!” philosophy.  (Really, it was just that when my daughter got the ball, her own goal was the closest goal to her... just like in practice.)

This is where things got sad.  When they explained to her what just happened.  She just started crying.  She broke down right there on the field.  She was so upset and she was crying so much that they had to call for a substitution.  She didn’t want to do anything but come back over to mommy and daddy.  So she did.  They resumed play while my daughter sat in our laps crying. :-(  It literally broke my heart.  I have seen her kick, scream, yell and cry for not getting her way.  That doesn't bother me. But I very seldom see her crying due to pain or something I truly feel is tear worthy.  If you are a parent, you know how bad that hurts.  If you are a father, you know I COULDN’T let me wife and kids see that one bothered me.  But it stung.

Also, if you are a father, you know that sting generally goes away much quicker than it does with mothers.  So after a few hours (which really was just a few minutes of real-time but an eternity of  “father-time” (pun might have been intended... I’m not sure)) it was time to rub some dirt on it and get back out there and play.  I told her in my nicest fatherly voice that it was time to suck up those tears and get back in the game.  She told me, “NO!”  My wife tried her caring motherly tone and asked her in the way that only mothers can.  She told her, “NO!”  She kept saying she wanted to be the goalie because it was “easy!”  She was crying saying that the game was too hard.  She wanted to play goalie because she could use her hands.  

My wife and I didn’t truly understand what she was meaning by all of this easy and hard stuff.  But to me, this was starting to be more than a little annoying.  (I know.  Bad father, right?  I just can’t take all of the whining. And that’s all it was at this point.)  So I told her she basically had 2 choices.  She could go out there, have some fun and keep playing OR she could go out there and stand in the middle of the field and cry.  Either way she wasn’t sitting on the sidelines with us and crying.  I gave her the... *ahem*... fatherly nudge and pointed her toward the rest of her team standing at the goal.

She had finally calmed down enough to go back out there.  The coaches were picking the positions for the next quarter (4 quarters for children’s soccer).  Little did we know our daughter only agreed to go back out there because she thought she might get a chance to play goalie.  When the coaches took the special RED shirt to signify “goalie” off of one of the children and placed it on another child... that wasn’t my daughter... the waterworks started all over!  This time people were treated to a dramatic encore performance staring... well, you know who.  My daughter put her hands over her face and hit the ground right there in front of the net.

(Side Note:  Thank you to the coaching staff as well as the officials of that game.  They did all they could to console her and to get her to play the game in the position she was designated to play.  They did a wonderful job.  My daughter looked over the the sidelines like she didn't want to play and my wife and I pointed for her to stay on the field.  So, the coaches and officials had to deal with the fallout. But they did a wonderful job and I commend them.)

My little angel :-) remembered her 2 choices.  And neither of them involved coming back over to the sidelines with us.  So (since she didn’t get to play the “easy” goal keeper position) she chose option #2.  And that’s where her day finished.  She ended the day standing in the middle of the field... just crying.  She wouldn’t run.  She wouldn’t kick.  She wouldn’t move.  She just stood there for the entire 4th quarter... crying. I was slightly (very) upset.

With all of the mistakes that were made, I was fine.  She’s a child.  Several other children made mistakes as well.  (Not as many as mine, though.  I didn’t tell about the other time she grabbed the ball and some other issues as well.)  But that’s all part of the learning process.  I will never be mad about that.  What REALLY upset me was that she gave up and didn’t try at all.  She didn’t get her way and just called it quits.  There are completely reasonable reasons to call it quits: When your ethics will be compromised... When someone else is going to be harmed in the process...  When you run out of money and can’t afford to pay your gambling debts and the Australian Mob (who, BTW, are the nicest Mob in the world) threaten to fly around the world to “come pay you a friendly visit” and you sell your entire Brittany Spears Collection just so you can bet it ALL on double-zeroes... again....

All of those (and many more) are good reasons to quit something.  But not getting you way is NOT one of them. (I love a well placed double negative!)  We told her that she was eventually going to get to play goalie.   Everyone gets a chance to play all of the positions.  She just needed to be patient and trust in her parents and coaches words.  And, no matter what, keep trying!  That was now going to be her new focus and getting her to understand this was mine.

To recap:  The first game... She played. She made a couple of mistakes. She cried... and cried... and did I mention... CRIED! Soccer is too hard. Playing goalie is “easy” because she gets to use her hands.  And that’s where we will end because it’s leads into the next post about the following Saturday... A Tale of Two Kiddies (Part 3)

Friday, September 16, 2011

A Tale of Two Kiddies (Part 1)

She was the best at times, and was the worst at times, she’s at the age before wisdom, she’s at the age of foolishness, blah, blah, blah.  You get the point.  She’s a 5YO.  So, what exactly am I yapping about? After much blood, sweat and debate, my wife and I decided to sign our daughter up for America’s 17th favorite past-time (just below Cow Tipping and Water Ballet... SOCCER. (That would be FOOTBALL for everyone else outside of the US of A.)

This past weekend, my middle child (5YO) played in her very first soccer (football) game.  We couldn’t have imagined how this day was going to turn out.  (Really, we could... if we had just remembered most of the days of her young 5 years of life.  As parents we sometimes forget history when we are excited for our kids.  It gives us the wonderful experience of learning the same lesson more than once.)  We glossed over ALL of the warning signs designed to give parents a heads up on how to predict the behaviors of our offspring.  

It’s kinda like those parents who insist on taking their crying, whining or otherwise LOUD children to a movie or a dinner at a nice restaurant.  You know your kids.  You know they are going to be bothersome.  Being a parent you give up the right to have any kind of fun whatsoever until the kids are old enough to take care of themselves... stay home.  (My wife and I dodn't have a problem with this because we didn't go anywhere.  We don’t and didn't have any money. So we never took the kids out in public... until now.)  But this was one time we just acted like new parents and threw her into soccer (football). So the blame is really on us.

Everything started fine.  And by everything, I mean the walk from the car to the field was fine.  When she got out to the field she noticed there were people like her (with the green shirts on) and people not like her (with the purple color shirts on).  Something wasn’t right here.  So I told her the purple shirts were the OTHER team.  It was the team she was to play against.

Up to this point, she had only been at soccer (football) "practice".  Everyone was on the same side. There were no teams.  Only friends sharing a common goal.  So, in her mind, she had to come to grips with this new scenario and it meant she was going to have to play against another team.  But more importantly, It meant she was going to have to SHARE the field with some other kids she didn’t even know.  Well... she HATES sharing (just ask her little sister).  So that was officially the first flag in her mind.  And the game hadn’t even started.  At this point I should have used my fatherhood skills to explain "competition" to her.  I kind of quickly glossed over it.  We have been trying to get her to "cooperate" and now we were having to teach her to be stingy.  And I'm OK with that.  But I knew I was going to have to have the competition talk.  (This is the equivalent of the sex talk the mothers have the have with the daughters.  Just trust me on this one.  Men and competition will be a whole 'nother post.)

When I finally do have "the talk" about competition, I’m not going to use great historical rivalries like: Lakers vs Celtics, Packer vs Bears, Red Sox vs Yankees, University of Tennessee vs Alabama or even (within the sport itself) Liverpool vs Manchester United. No, those don't have the impact.  I need to use something that shows MUCH more of a battle.  I need to use something that epitomizes competition at a child level.  I need to explain what childish competion is and still makes sure it relates to soccer (football) so my 5YO can understand.  

So when I have this conversation, I will give her a live lesson and soccer (football) lesson at the same time.  I will explain soccer (football) using the best child-like competitors in the history of the US: Democrats vs Republicans.  (Yes, it's political but it's not that bad.  I'm talking to a 5YO for goodness sake.) I fugure this is the perfect way to explain the difference in Cooperation (sharing and compromising: basically, what we’ve been trying to teach her) and Competition (me vs you, win, lose, compromise = lose/lose).  So, I imagine my explanation will eventually sound a little like this.

The Democrats vs The Republicans make it to the World Cup.  The Republicans immediately tell the referees (much to the dismay of the Democrats) that they will not be needing their services.  They feel that less of them (referees) trying to control everything would make for a much better game.  The Democrats, of course, don’t agree.  They feel more rules and people watching over everything keeps the teams honest.  

So, the Democrats want to not only KEEP the current referees but to also hire MORE refs.  They just can’t really find the money to pay this new labor force.  (Minor Detail)  The Democrats and Republicans continue to fight over this one little issue... for hours and hours and hours and hours.  The crowd gets restless because they thought they were going to watch soccer (football).  But before the two sides can come to an agreement, compromise or resolution they BOTH decide to start the game anyway (typical).

The Republicans get the ball first.  (I’m not sure how that happened but it always does.)  They take the ball and keep it only on their side of the field.  A strange strategy to say the least.  The Democrat think this is a horrible, unfair tactic.  They feel that the best game for the fans would be one where the ball is “spread around” between the two teams.  The Republicans assure the Democrats that through the logical progression of the game itself the ball will eventually “trickle down” to them... on a flat field.  (Hmmm...)  The Democrats feel that’s a flawed logic and the only way for the ball to ever get to their side of the field is to go get it! They decide that that Republican tactic is not only unfair but also does a terrible job showing the true meaning of the game. 

So, the Democrats talk to the rules committee and they create a rule on the spot.  The rule states that it doesn't matter whether they go get the ball or not, the Republicans HAVE to give it up after a certain amount of time.  When the Democrats get the ball they completely enjoy what it means.  And not only that, they enjoy it so much they decide that EVERYONE should have a ball to play with.  This creates a small problem since there are 20+ players on the field and there is only 1 ball.  That doesn’t matter to the Democrats.  As a matter of fact, even after the numbers are presented, they PROMISE that everyone will have a ball to play with whether they want one or not.  The Republicans laugh at this because they see the math... and it doesn’t add up.  They see the 20 players on the field and only 1 ball.  How will the Democrats manage this mathematical impossibility???

The Democrats refuse to be limited by logic and go to the fans to ask for more money.  They explain it’s the right thing to do.  The fans should give more money to purchase more balls.  The fans originally think that’s a great idea because they want a fun game to watch.  And more importantly, they just want the game to start!  They really want to see what their taxes... I mean, ticket prices paid for.  But while they are waiting to hear all of the sides on this issue the Democrats decide to get the money from them whether they want to give it or not.  They do so in the name of the “best interest of the fans” clause.  They really feel this will start the game.  But, for some reason... it still doesn’t.  

Then to insure they are elected to play in the game next season, the Democrats AND the Republicans decide that working together is the only thing to make sure the fans get what they paid for and to get this game started.  They figure they will work together for the benefit of the fans and to insure a better game for all.

The only problem is that no matter how much they say they are working together, they are on different sides of the ball.  No matter the good intent of either side, one side is ALWAYS trying to take the ball from the other side.  Then the Democrats say "we have a right to play here, we are entitled" and the Repubs say "yeah, but we own the park and here are our guns to prove it!" Then it just starts an all out brawl! 
And, basically, in the end, you find a whole lot of people kicking the ball around but no one is actually playing soccer (football).  Surely, my 5YO will know what I mean.  Kids can figure out a few things before grownups do sometimes.

I guess I will end this one there.  I got off on a tangent.  Who would have known that explaining soccer (football) would be so tiring?  I did all of that and I didn't even get into the Tale of the first Kiddie.  That will be my next post.  I promise.  Stay tuned for what I was really planning on writing about with my next post.