A typical Cache Valley spring soccer season is well underway. One day I’m sitting on the sidelines wearing capris and flip flops soakin’ in the sunshine, and the next day I’m wrapping a blanket over my parka trying to angle an umbrella against wind and snow.
I love it though.
I know “soccer mom” is a mocked and cliché role, but I totally dig it. It’s provided some great opportunities for me to teach my son some important life lessons, and buy and wear cheesy team apparel.
One of the hardest and most important lessons we’ve confronted is one that’s becoming lost in society: How to be a loser. Though it’s tough, it’s crucial to learn how to lose because at some point in life everyone must sport “The Big L” on their forehead, despite the new age philosophy of “Everybody gets a trophy!”
Just the other day I was talking to a friend who works as an elementary school counselor. He expressed concern that the upcoming generation doesn’t know how to lose, take rejection or criticism. It’s hard to let your kids fail, but we deprive them of vital development if they’re constantly buffered from it. Then they become the kid in the counselor’s office who insists on eating his reward Skittles by setting them on the floor in a line then licking them up one by one with his tongue.
In my role as a soccer mom (and a seasoned loser) I’ve tried to help my son learn how to rock “The Big L.”
His first loser lesson came during the debut soccer season. Though our sweet boys looked super cute in their bright red uniforms, the Hawks were 0-3, all major blow-outs. Though I was disappointed and sympathized with my little hawk, I was most disappointed by something that happened toward the end of one of the games.
My defender was chasing down the opponent with the ball when he suddenly stopped running and just let the kid go. The little punk scored. As my sweaty son headed back down the field I could see the justification written on his red face: What does it matter? What’s another goal when you’re already so far behind?
After the game, my son stomped to the car and slumped down in the backseat as he snarled, “That sucked.”
I asked him, “Why did it suck?”
(Disclaimer: I don’t care for or approve of the word “suck,” but sometimes you have to pick your battles.)
He answered with surprised disgust, “Weren’t you watching, Mom? We lost, big time.”
I responded, “Yeah, I saw. But that’s not why it sucked.”
More surprised disgust, “What?! Losing sucks, Mom!”
I explained, “What sucks is that you gave up.”
He sat there busted, “Well, losing still sucks.”
I conceded, “Yes it does. So figure out what you’re going to do about that. And stop using the word ‘suck.’”
We lost the next game 4-1, but after the game my son excitedly jumped into the car and said, “We only lost by three this time, Mom! And did you see me make the goal?”
“I sure did! Way to go, loser!”
More loser lessons to come.