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.