“Mom, I didn’t get much playing time today.” The heartbreaking words that came from my son as we walked off the field from the season opener game from JFL. Even more heartbreaking, the tears that were welling up in his eyes while he was trying to be strong. Be still my breaking heart. This is one of those precious moments of parent hood when I had to encourage and support while watching my son have to stand and persevere in his own time and his own way. I truly think these moments in time are harder on me than they are on him. You see, I am not a sideline kind of girl. And my man, not a sideline kind of guy. We like to be right in the heart of the action. So, when we are watching our kids struggle to find their place, we find we have a choice to make. We can make excuses, or we can create teachable moments.
My Lucas is a super talented kid. He is quiet and polite. A bit of a genius in his own right. He doesn’t have to work for his grades. He just gets it. He loves to read, to build and create. And in the midst of a middle school growth spurt, he is a bit awkward in trying to figure out how to work the extra couple of inches of body he has acquired in the last few months. So, there is part of me that is thankful for football. It is a team sport. It does not come easy to him. It is something that he has to work for to get better. When something does not come easy for him, it teaches him character that can only come through struggle and perseverance. So I thought I would share a few things I learned as a mom on the sidelines.
Hard work always pays off. This was a lesson we learned several years ago in Tae Kwon Do. Lucas was up for a red belt promotion, but could not quite get the steps to the form down. This meant he was skipped on belt promotion. But, he took that additional time to keep work, keep growing and when the next belt promotion came to pass, he earned the award of most improved student. A proud mom moment for sure, but a lifelong lesson for a kid building character.
Respect Authority. Any time my kids are struggling, I encourage them to go the experts. That may be their coach or their teacher. We have an honest conversation about expectations and ways we can improve. We hold our kids accountable to those standards.
Be Ready. Know your job and be ready to do it at anytime. I reminded Lucas, week after week, that Aaron Rodgers stood in the shadow of Brett Favre for five years before getting a chance to go in. And when his chance came, he stole the show. You never know when your chance will come, but be ready, because those who do the right thing will eventually reap the rewards.
Attitude is everything. When you make good choices, good outcomes will occur. You will always reap what you sew. Getting mad, playing the blame game and giving up are the easy way out. Honoring your commitment to your team is the strongest statement you can make, even if you are cheering from the sidelines. Stay positive. Work hard. Cultivate Growth.
Encourage their strengths. While we may not have the next rising star of JFL, we do have a pretty bodacious brainiac. My son has a good attitude, a cool head and a polite demeanor that causes people to take notice. By the end of the year, he noticed that his coaches were taking more time to invest in his talent and he was seeing more playing time. We celebrated every play. I can’t wait to see how his talent develops next year.
Watching our kids struggle is one of the hardest things we have to endure as parents. Even when it doesn’t seem like they are getting a fair shake, we can’t intercept for them. Life is hard and sometimes unfair. Isn’t it better for them to learn that now? The sooner they figure out how to stand in the struggle, the more they will learn how to stand positioned for success in their life. They will learn how to keep their attitudes in check. They will learn to respect and learn from the authority that they have in their day to day lives. They will learn that true success takes work, determination, perseverance and the choice to do the right thing each and every time. Our JFL boys were told that they win each game play by play. Isn’t that the truth? The same can surely be said about life. Choice by choice, we position ourselves for our future consequences.
I have been holding on this blog for quite sometime and I have to say I am glad that I waited for the end of the year to publish it. I am so excited that I can tell you how the story ends. At the annual football banquet, one to two kids from each grade level are awarded a sportsmanship award for their performance within their team. Not athletic talent, but coachability, dependability, leadership and attitude. Kids who set the bar for attitude on the team. And my son and another young man were chosen for their age level by their coaches to receive the award. What an amazing moment! All of the sudden, the sweat, frustration and tears were worth it. He held strong and he was rewarded for his efforts. But even before receiving this coveted award, he had made his choice to play another year for the breakers. I can’t wait to see how his story continues in the off season!