There’s no real good way of teaching that

There’s no real good way of teaching that

From the moment our children are born, we instinctually know it’s our job as parents to serve as their protectors, most parents anyways.

But from an early age, be it through cupboard locks or baby gates or foam padding around the fireplace ledge, our actions suggest our biggest priority in life is keeping that little one safe from harm.

But years after those children are old enough to not randomly tumble down steps or crack their faces on concrete edges and those child locks have been relocated from the cupboard of cleaning supplies to the liquor cabinet, the urge to shield them from the harsh realities of real life never really goes away.

As they grow, so do the size and complexities of their problems, and all the baby gates in the world can’t sufficiently protect them from what’s ahead. At some point you just hope that as a parent you’ve armed them with enough tools to handle adversity, that they come out OK.
This all comes swirling about in my brain much earlier than I ever anticipated.

Last weekend I spent many, many hours on the soccer field watching my 9-year-old son and his teammates play in a tournament. And it was a really successful tournament at that, one that saw them advance all the way to the finals and him bag one of the better goals I’ve ever seen him produce along the way.

But in the final match with his team hanging on for dear life, he was the goalkeeper and conceded a late, game-tying goal. Then moments later, just before the final whistle, he gave up another.

Game. Set. Match.

From the opposite sideline, I watched this poor, dejected kid I’d spent 9 years trying to shield from harm trudge off the field to the sidelines with his teammates, clearly shouldering the blame of a winners’ medal missed.

And when his coach was done speaking and he walked across the field toward me, the tears opened up.

Too often sports are written off as the toy store of life. But truth be told, there are a lot of good, hard life lessons that come from them.

My coaching mentor and friend Billy Clyde used to remind his athletes before each season to remember what they’re signing up for. It was a final caution of what’s ahead, that each season will include high highs and low lows and choosing to participate means you’re going to be on this ride until the finish.

As fun as winning may be, the best lessons often come from the painful losses. It’s where character is revealed and true drive to overcome the hard stuff shows itself most clearly.

On the drive home, as the tears slowly dried up and the chatter turned from dour to something more positive, I finally got up the nerve to ask him if he wanted to continue being a goalkeeper.

He was shocked I’d even ask. Of course he wanted to keep training. The thought of hanging it up had never even entered his head.

When we start this journey as parents, resiliency and toughness are two things we know we want our kids to possess, but there’s no real good way of teaching those things. So we do our best and hope that when such a scenario presents itself, our kids can handle it.

As parents we’ll chalk this one up as a big success and consider it a sign the boy is on track for success with future bouts of adversity.

Now if only there was someone who helps parents through this stuff.

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