Last spring my daughter signed up for all girls soccer. It was cute and it was fun and it was very girly – much like my daughter. She enjoyed the game and when I saw there was another soccer program much closer to home and indoors (hello I live in Canada), we signed her up. When we got there, we realized 6-9 year old girls and boys meant just that; 6-9 year old girls and boys all on the same team playing another team of 6-9 year old girls and boys. I did think it would be a co-ed team but I did not think my 6 year old girl would be opposing 9 year old boys, or them opposing her. I am not sure at what point she understood this to be the concept because she grabbed the jersey they gave her and ran to the bench. The coaches lined the kids up and let them go. It was crazy. They did even out the teams as much as possible, but sure enough there she was charging at a boy who was almost twice her size and definitely over her skill ability.
I wanted to yell out – “THIS ISN’T FAIR!” And my own motherly advice to my children came back to haunt me. See, I never allow my children to use the excuse, this isn’t fair. I don’t go to any lengths to make life fair for them (I don’t try to make it unfair), because I think this does them a great disservice. Life is not fair. No one ever said it would be. The more I prepare them for that, the better prepared they will be when it continually happens. This is why I don’t agree with not keeping score at kids games or not failing children who can not get the concepts. These events help kids learn how to lose well and that there needs to be more work involved.
Life is going to dump on you things at times that are just wrong, and completely unfair. You can sit on your ass, pout and scream life isn’t fair all you want, but the people who succeed in life and understand happiness, accept that life isn’t fair and they move on to make the best out of whatever cards life dealt them.
I saw something amazing happen in my child in that first game, which ironically had no practice for, so much like our life. My daughter raised herself to another level none of us knew she had in her. I have never seen her push herself so hard. She was challenged and she rose to the challenge. I still don’t know if she even does understand that that game was very unfair. She didn’t care, she didn’t flinch, she gave it her all. For her efforts she did actually get the ball twice from the big boy and at a minimum she was always there when he made a mistake and jumped on it.
Underneath the exterior of my girly-girl, there lies a longing to be challenged and a drive to rise to the occasion.
I hope she gets that from me.