So. Much. More.
Ok. So, I’m a little bit done this week.
And it’s only Tuesday.
And orange is not my color.
But here’s what we need to know. Or, at least here’s what I know and what I need for you to know.
Ya know, in my humble opinion.
Yes. They’re more than “just a game.”
It usually happens when we’re on the losing team.
After all, it’s only a game.
Ya know, because we lost and we don’t want to make it more than that.
Or I also love (don’t really love), “Well. They are only 9.”
They’re only 5.
Oh well, dang. Now they’re “only” 17 and have no clue how to win or lose or accept graciously or accept humbly or how to work with a team or how to self-discipline and shoot.
When is the right time to start?
In my kindermusik classes, we all get to be winners.
But at some point, right? At some point we have to teach other skills?
Raising our children up “in the way that they should go so that when they’re old they will not depart from it, ” that starts now, right?
What am I missing?
A few months ago a blog post circulated about the most important words our children need to hear in regards to sports.
I love watching you play.
Oh my gosh, how I love watching my kids play.
And I’m loud about it.
Right now it’s football.
I love it when he tackles. I love it when he runs. I love it when he hits the shoulder pads of his teammates congratulating them on their play. I love it even more when he gets tackled and he gets.
I love the whole. dang. thing.
Raising our children?
It’s so much more than a game.
I get that parents can take it too seriously and push too hard and I understand the sentiment but, y’all—
XBOX is just a game.
Fake little football people running across the screen is just a game.
But my son? Our children? Learning respect? Learning teamwork and cooperation? Learning humility and sportsmanship? Learning how to win well and how to lose even better? Learning that you have to show up and stand up and get.
That, y’all. Is not a game. That is life.
I didn’t encourage Coulter play youth football because I’m training him for a life of professional football.
He weighs 65 lbs soaking wet.
I encouraged youth football for his life, right now.
I encouraged youth football as a tool for learning and as an opportunity for some pretty cool guys to build into my son.
I asked Coulter last week if he thought his coaches yell too much.
He looked at me as if that were quite literally the dumbest question ever.
Ok, well does Coach Dan yell?
OK, well does Coach Mike yell? (Mike is his future step-dad, fyi)
When Coach Mike gets mad, he usually just throws his clipboard down. But then, well, he can’t bend down to pick it up and so he has to kind of lean down (Coulter gives me a play-by-play)visual and by now we are both hysterical, laughing.
Yes, I can see my strong, little, non-flexible man throwing a clipboard for effect and then being humbled as he tries to figure out how to pick it back up.
You see, here’s what I’m thinking.
We’re lying to our children.
Everyone gets a trophy.
Everyone’s a winner.
You’re only nine and it’s just a game.
But what if we set a higher standard?
You are nine years old!
Not only nine.
What’s that phenomenon called when we set the bar high and they rise to reach it?
What happened to the bar?
It’s like we’re all in that game where you dance under the bar (limbo?) and they keep lowering the bar and lowering the bar and why don’t we stop—
Lowering the bar.
Raise it up.
This sport? This activity? Artists and gymnast and pianist and athletes? What is it they love?
Love to watch them play. Yes-And.
Quit telling them it’s only a game.
Play is a child’s work.
Watch a child in the sandbox. Watch how hard they work. Watch them on the monkey bars. That is hard stuff!
Telling them it’s only a game doesn’t make them feel better.
It diminishes who they are and what they are and how they spend their time.
This is their life! Let’s build them up and raise them up and cheer as they throw that football up.
Or whatever it is that they do with it.
Football. I didn’t write a $150 check for six weeks for “just a game”.
Basketball. I didn’t write a $90 check for six weeks for “just a game”.
I wrote those checks as an investment in my child’s life.
And investment that says, “I’m proud of you and I believe in you and if this is important to you, than it’s important to me.”
Last week he came out of a big ‘ol pile of boys with the ball. He held it high in victory. He showed it to the crowd. I started screaming, spilling my tea on everyone around me. “He has the ball!! Coulter has the ball!!”
I don’t know how he got it and the play got called back but do you think for a second I thought about cheering,
“DON’T WORRY!! IT’S JUST A GAME!”
No! I yelled. Look at that kid.
That kid? That #32! Look at him! He has the ball.
When he’s all grown up, what will his “play” look like? Who knows?
I don’t care what he chooses (or what the Lord chooses for him). All I care is that I raise a son who fights hard to get out of a tackle still holding the ball.
And when he does, I’ll still be cheering.