loy-al-ty: The state or quality of being loyal; faithfulness to commitments or obligations.
I'm all for competition. But I fear that we've been given so many choices in life that it's rare to find people with any type of loyalty. This goes way beyond products, but that's where it all starts.
Our kids are given so many choices and if they don't love something, they've been taught that they should just grab something else. Don't like your subject in school? Drop it and take something else. Don't like your teacher in Kindergarten? Your parents will complain and you'll get someone else. Your best friend having a bad day and not nice to you today? Dump them and grab the next closest kid.
We may be reaching and getting bigger and better every time, but we're missing something. We're missing loyalty. The sense of accomplishment of building something and going through the ups and downs and seeing something through is better than any feeling you're going to get by constantly trading up.
Three years ago, my daughter wanted to play soccer. The local club was filled with a cliquey group of girls and parents, so I steered clear of that situation, but didn't really have a good alternative that was close. My other daughter played for a club but they only had boy's teams. We showed up at the tryout anyway. There were four girls there. Clearly not enough to start a team, but if we all went home, got on the phones and brought kids to tryouts, it may just work.
By the next day we had 14 girls there. Two other parents and I begged and pleaded to get this team started and amazingly it worked. The three of us made a pact. If any of us thought of leaving, we needed to let the other two know. The team started off a little like the Bad News Bears, but they had a blast. Many of their friends would laugh at them because they weren't quite at the playing level of the cliquey club, but our girls didn't care. They were in it together and building something terrific.
By the end of the year, one girl thought she was too good for the team and left. We saw that writing on the wall early, so not a surprise. The second year two more were given a financial incentive to go to another club (yes, dirty play even happens for 10 year old girls). By the third year, we lost another two because they wanted to play for better teams. It was amazing, because our girls were getting SO much better. To the point that other teams were trying to recruit them. But because we lost kids every year and had to rebuild, their level of play could never get raised.
It was a little disappointing, but our core remained strong. I often asked my daughter if she ever had thoughts of trying out somewhere else. I loved her response. "Why? So I can find someone who can trap the ball a little better when I pass to them? I love my team. We have something so much better than trophies."
We both thought we did. Then this year, one of the core members left and took two kids with her to play for a higher level team - without warning. The sad part is that the parents don't seem to understand where it is that their kids gained the skills to make those high level teams.
I completely get it when someone needs to leave a team or club because they have a poor coach, location/financial issues or there are crazy politics happening, but just to look for bigger and better is something I don't agree with. The grass is rarely greener over there. It's usually the same problems just dressed differently.
We're sticking with our Bad News Bears team because my daughter is happy. I'm not sure we'll ever have the Hollywood ending of a championship season, but I do think my daughter is getting more out of it than just soccer.
She'll learn that when her best friend does something stupid and the world turns on her that she'll be the one to get her through it, not run with the rest of the crowd. She'll learn that there is no better feeling than building something from scratch and earning success. She'll learn that when her marriage gets tough (and we all know it will), she won't instantly be checking out the UPS man.
I may not be doing this whole parenting thing correctly all the time, but I believe I've got this one. However, I also need to add that we're Cubs fans. That probably explains a lot.