It’s been quite some time since I’ve posted anything, mostly because life has been busy and rather complicated over the past 7 months. But…we barreled through the difficult days and we have come up for air and for me, to write is to breathe.
During this time of non-writing, I did a lot of observation and now I have stuff to say. Now I must warn you, while I am not an ogre, I am not sweet and I call a spade a spade. I am after all entitled to my opinion and this is my little avenue to speak my mind. Like it, don’t like it…your prerogative. I am going to take my time to breathe.
On this rainy afternoon, I figure I am going to write about something that has baffled me for about 6 years – the score board in kid’s sports. Perhaps what I am about to discuss only happens in the province of Ontario. Perhaps it only happens in Canada and maybe it’s just an ice and ball hockey thing but I am sure many of you may share my view on how ridiculous this score board “thing” is.
When my second son was almost 6 years old, he played in his first organized hockey house league. At this level they followed the puck like a swarm of bees, not caring or knowing what it meant to be offside. They had no real skill. They had no understanding of organized play or strategy. All they knew was the puck had to get in the net and every one of them wanted to be the one that put it there.
Now, being West Indian, I was baptized by fire when it came to developing the physical and mental stamina of supporting my kids in their winter sport of choice. Little did I know then, this was just the beginning of many years of incorporating arenas into our family life and I have to say I have loved every freezing minute of watching my boys participate. Now, maybe its the “it is what it is” or as it’s said in my native Trinidad, my “francomen” upbringing, but I am confused about the score board. Here in Ontario, ( I can only speak of this province) officials have decided to control the scoreboard so as not to demoralize the children. So if the score is 10 -2 in favour of either the home or visiting team, officials keep tabs of the true score while the scoreboard reflects a score of 5-2. Hmmmmm….I know, eh? Kinda silly, yes?
I will be the first to tell you that my kids had the traditional fantasies of chidhood. Their pretend play included Thomas the Tank Engine, Star Wars: Clone Wars … they were influenced by whatever the popular show or latest “it” toy was and they’ve been “Disneyed”. My husband and I believe that childhood is too short and precious to exclude fantasy and we encouraged to imagine and dream, to have things to get excited about and wish for and they were encouraged to be just plain old silly. There is nothing like the innocence and happiness of children. What I don’t understand is encouraging them to be active, teaching them the rules and the object of a game yet protecting them from possible disappointment. Okay, okay, no one likes to see a kid with his or her feelings hurt. No one likes to see a little kid cry but let’s face it, in life things are gonna hurt and they damn well might have to have a good cry and in time (sometimes in no time at all) they will get over it!
In a game, sport or in any kind of competition there is always a winner and a loser. It’s great to win, and we should teach kids how to celebrate victory without gloating and we have a responsibility to teach them how to lose as well. It is good to lose. It’s okay to feel crummy about losing but that’s wherewe come in as parents with the brief, (yes, brief…don’t get me started on the parents who over explain everything…) and encouraging conversation where we can teach our children that a good way to get rid of the crummy feeling is to get back out there next time and try a little harder to win. And if even if they still don’t win, it just means they are a little closer to winning another day.
My son and his teammates are now 12 years old and the true score still isn’t reflected on the score board. The funny thing is, they have ALWAYS known the real score because they’ve known how to count since they were two or three years old. I would never forget hearing a couple kids after one of the games years ago saying, “Man, we got killed. The score was really 10-2,” and in another breath the conversation switched to, “You going to Jacob’s party this afternoon? He’s having a bouncy castle!” My point? The game was over and life went on.
How wonderful to have sports, games and hobbies available to so many! Things so worthwhile and so necessary when it comes to teaching life skills and lessons in patience, acceptance, tolerance and camaraderie. Just like us, our children need to accept triumph and defeat. They need to know that a loss or a win does not need to affect every aspect of their lives. We need to teach them to celebrate triumph while showing humility and respect for their opponent. We also need to show them how to be to congratulate the winner and to be truly happy for them. If we don’t let them be disappointed, they will grow up feeling entitled to things they may not deserve and they will be eaten up by jealousy. If we keep making things easier for them, how will they ever know the pride and joy of accomplishment due to hard work.
I get the impression that society is out of sorts sometimes when it comes to knowing what’s good and what’s bad for children. On the one hand, some people who feel that being honest with children about sexuality at a young age and not “lying” to them about common or traditional childhood fantasies is the way to go. Sometimes this “method” yields little adults who, in my opinion know things they really don’t understand. Ironically enough on the other hand, these are the same people who are all for allowing the officials to display a bogus score instead of letting the kids deal with the fact that they are handily being beaten by the other team and are losing by 8 goals.
I remember losing as a child…at many things. Sometimes it just happened because the other person was better than I was that day. Sometimes it was mine to lose because I didn’t really try. Sometimes my grades were good and sometimes they were not. I tasted bitter disappointment but I also tasted the sweetness of success and I remember the success was always that much sweeter when it did not come easy.
Dear officials, I’m just one parent but I say please let’s not put our children at a disadvantage by surrounding them in a protective plastic bubble. You are actually suffocating their potential for greatness. It is my job to boost my kid’s self esteem and teach him how to bounce back from loss. Put the damn score on the board. It might hurt a little bit but I’m sure our kids will be okay.