My Dearest Children,
There is so much you can learn on a soccer field, like the importance of aiming for your own goal instead of the other team’s goal. But in all seriousness, soccer is a perfect metaphor for the rest of life as many sports have a tendency to be. Here’s the thing. Don’t just pick any goal to achieve. Listen to your heart on this one, ponder, evaluate, weigh the pros and cons and then go for it with such gusto that any naysayers out there will be left in your dust. People will undoubtedly hand you the rusty (and my most despised) old cliché to “Reach for the Stars” which, in its essence, is asking you to set goals that are wildly unachievable. Yet despite my dislike for it, I still think there is value in this old saying: aim for what may sometimes seem impossible, visualize it, and make a plan. Write your goals down. Check yourself. This requires discipline and tenacity. (Quite frankly you’ve all got that tenacity thing down already!) I have such high hopes for you kiddos. Some might say it’s wrong of me to pin such lofty expectations on such young people but I hope by now you realize you wouldn’t really want me to expect any less.
What the future holds? I don’t know. But I will be there cheering for you from the sidelines and helping you keep your eye on the prize.
Andrew is nearing the end of his first real season of soccer and it has been a wonderful experience. He scored several goals—almost all of them for his own team! But that was not really the important part. In fact I think the most valuable lesson to come from the season is how to lose graciously. They lost all but 2 of their games (with one game left) but I think there is a lot to be said for how they learned to handle it. There were no tears over losses, just the drive to try harder and while I know there are many (most?) parents out there who would prefer to see their child win every game, I’m not one of them. Learning how to win means learning how to lose too. It means learning how to work with a team, make mistakes, practice hard, and yes, to have fun—fun that doesn’t require winning at all costs. This may seem in stark contrast to the letter above but I really feel setting goals and learning to lose actually go hand in hand. How can you learn to set high, yet realistic goals for yourself if you don’t know your limitations? How do you move forward if you don’t arrive prepared to conquer what might hold you back? Personally, I’m not sure you can. When they lost the first of their two games today I said in a joking tone “Well we wouldn’t want to break the streak now would we?” But I wasn’t really joking. It’s a great lesson to master the art of losing, getting up, and trying again.
Being back on a soccer field made me really joyful. It brought me back to my childhood and I am infinitely proud that I was sitting there on the sidelines watching my own child love something I loved once too. Plus, I guess now I’m official a “Soccer Mom” (Minivan included). And I finally learned, after all these years, that I wouldn’t trade it for the world.