My daughter's soccer team is very competitive. They work incredibly hard and each girl has an intense commitment to the sport. After years of taking two steps forward and one step back, this season they found themselves on the brink of winning their division. That would mean they would move to a group of teams that are the best in the state.
They had an undefeated season and yesterday was their last game. Because of the way the point system worked, they needed to win. Everyone was excited for the predictable victory and giant celebration at the end of the game.
Both teams worked hard the entire time. After over an hour of play, we were up 2-1 with mere seconds left, but just like Saturday night's Chicago Blackhawks game, there was a fluke play and it was like we were watching the soccer ball in slow motion when it found it's way to the back of our net.
The other team parents were screaming and slapping high-fives over each other's heads and our team parents were silent. Mouths dropped and disappointment fell upon all of us. The silence was broken by three long whistles from the ref. Our dream season was over. A tie put us in second place. Otherwise known as first losers.
I'm not a yeller during games, but I do grumble to myself a lot. I get frustrated when I see my daughter not playing her best and try very hard to keep positive even if I secretly want to scream at her to get the lead out. I'm a pacer. I don't even bring a chair. I know how much this sport, team, coach and winning means to her. I wanted this win for her and yesterday I felt my heart drop when that damn ball rolled into our net. They talked about this for weeks and were so excited to achieve something that has always been just out of reach.
There was no giant celebration, gatorade thrown on the coach, or carrying of the MVP over everyone's head. It was just kind of over. It was just kind of sad.
I had to rush out of there to take my daughter and her teammate to another game. As I sat in the car waiting for them, I wondered how they (ok, we) were going to recover from this. I didn't know what to say to make them feel better and had no idea how they would react when their coach told them they were no longer in first and didn't win the division.
After the team talk, they ran and jumped into the car. I was trying to figure out directions, so it was silent for a while. I then asked, "soooooo, what do you guys think?" My daughter answered, "about what?"
Oh, I don't know. The ever increasing gas prices, the NSA leaker, Syrian rebels?
"The game. Are you guys ok?"
They both said they were disappointed, but they still felt like they played well, and really, it's just a game.
It's just a game.
I left it alone, and within five minutes they were giggling in the back and waving to the cars that we drove by and claiming success whenever someone waved back. The highlight of their trip was when a driver stuck his tongue out at them. You would have thought they won the lottery with their cheers of success.
They're eleven. They love soccer, but they love laughing, life and being kids even more.
Every now and then our kids teach us much more than we can teach them. They're amazingly resilient and a great reminder to keep things in perspective. Next time things start going south in your life, just go and stick your tongue out at the driver next to you. Apparently it works.
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