Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Who Likes To Win? Raise Your Hand!

Yesterday was the first day of soccer class for The Kid. He has been so excited for this day to finally arrive that since the first week of December, which is when we signed him up, he has literally been counting down the days. Yesterday morning, he cracked his eyes open and yelled out, "It's today! TODAY! Soccer starts today!!! Yea!! " Then he began to jump up and down on his bed, while yelling out, "I love you Mommy! I love you Daddy!" I guess he figured he better butter us up, since one of us would be driving him that day!

So, we made it through school and work and driving to the practice location. We unloaded, all "geared up," which in this case just meant that The Kid was wearing black and grey warm up pants, a long sleeved black t-shirt, a white sports shirt over that, spanking white cleats, and a too long pair of soccer socks. They were so long that they could have reached all the way up to his hips had I let him pull them up all the way. He was SO excited to be in these new soccer clothes and shoes, that I didn't want to say anything to him. But frankly, when I looked at him, it didn't work well together. In a way, he was kind of previewing what he might look like, say, when he's 80 years old, walking around the retirement community. His shirt and shoes were SO white against the black. Honestly, I was a bit relieved when he decided, on his own, to add a dark sweatshirt over the white and black shirt combo. It kind of toned it all down, bringing him out of the retirement look, back into the preschool sports arena.

So practice starts and the coach warms the kids up and they all spend some time learning a few basics of the game. All is going well. Then the coach stops the kids, calls them over, gathering them into a group around him, and begins to ask them questions:

Coach: Okay, who knows why we're here?

Soccer Kid #1: To play soccer! (Insert, cheers and claps from the rest of the kids)

Coach: That's right. To play soccer. And why do we play soccer together? What kinds of things happen when we play soccer?!

Soccer Kid #2: We work as a team!

Coach: (Obviously caught off guard by this wise insight) Ugh...that's right. We work as a team. What else? What else?

Soccer Kid#3: We have FUN! (Insert cheers and claps from the rest of the kids)

Coach: Yes, fun. That's good. But WHAT ELSE! What else happens when we play soccer?

Soccer Kid #4: We move our bodies and get EXERCISE!

Coach: [Looking a bit exasperated] Yes, yes, okay, exercise. That's good. But WHAT ELSE?

Soccer Kids: [Silence. Head scratching. Nose picking. Nothing. Notta.]

Coach: What else?! What ELSE happens when we play soccer? Someone...

Coach: Someone...

Coach: Someone WINS and someone LOSES.

Soccer Kids: Yea! Someone wins and someone loses!!

Coach: Who Likes to Win? Raise Your Hand!

Soccer Kids: [All the kids raise their hands, jump up and down, and run around]

Coach: Who likes to lose? Raise Your Hand!

Soccer Kids: [About half of the kids raise their hands, including The Kid. They all keep running around with excitement.]

Coach: Okay...well, um, yeah. I guess, it's not always about winning. But, it's better to win, right?!

Hmm...I have to say, I wasn't expecting that from the coach, especially on the first day of soccer practice for a bunch of 4 and 5 year old kids!

Well, The Kid had a great time and said that it was all that he had hoped for. And the "winning and losing" moment aside, it was truly awesome to watch him have so much fun and to feel proud of his accomplishments. I have a feeling, though, that this coach will give us all a lot of opportunities to talk about "winning" and "losing."

My first yoga teacher and mentor used to say that when others challenged my view of the world or when difficulties came up when interacting with others, I should take it as an opportunity to learn and grow. She suggested that I mentally thank the person by saying this mantra, "Thank you for giving me this life lesson." So, here's to life lessons, however, and where ever, they show up.

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