I'll admit, I started to cry just looking at the picture of my son signing I Love You through the glass at the hockey rink. Our friend made the graphic. The day was a big day and this was just the first part of it.
Jack was on the first place team going into the playoffs. They were going to have to fight to win and these boys knew it. Game one goes into overtime! And we win! The Championship goes into overtime and then a shootout! Jack takes the first shot and misses, but in the end we win the championship.
You'll note that he is the captain by the C on his jersey. That alone makes me one proud mama. Someone, other than me and his father, saw his leadership potential. Going into that final game, I don't think there was one parent there that didn't tell me how they'd picked the right leader when it came to picking Jack. He was motivating for his players and kind with his leadership. So, I was already bursting with pride.
After the game, the teams line up. The runner up team is handed their banner. The champions are handed theirs and the Captain and one of his Assistant Captains skate out to receive it. They skate it back to their team and they are suddenly lost in the sea of players wanting to touch their prize. What should happen next? Emerging from that pile is my little Captain! He skates to the other team and begins to shake the hands of the players. The coach moves in and shakes his hand as well. Could I have been any more proud? "Win with humility and lose with dignity," we'd told him. And look at that! He did.
They get it. When you give them the tools to be amazing they step it up a notch. If only one player from the other team walked away feeling appreciated because that Captain took a moment to shake their hand, then we did our job.
Tryouts for hockey are here again and I must say as a parent I'm a wreck. I absolutely don't care what teams my kids make. In this house there is not status symbol that goes with the ranking of a team. However, knowing they are pouring their hearts into these tryouts...that puts me on edge.
Last year was the first year my now 11 year old twins tried out for a travel team. They had been on a team for 2 years that prepped them for travel teams. When it came down to it only 2 boys from that prep team made travel and one of them was their best friend.
There were a million lessons learned that night and I have to say I was so proud of my boys for their handling of it.
Initially there is shock. That's how it goes. A few tears were shed, but ten minutes later they were excited about their new team, which the year before had taken a championship.
On the other end of the spectrum was their best friend who made that team and was equally as devastated that his friends hadn't. In a time when he should be celebrating his success, it was hard knowing that his friends' hearts were broken.
One of the hardest lessons, when you as a parent are hurting for your own kids, is to teach them to reach out to their friends who succeeded in making the teams they all tried out for, and genuinely congratulating them--and doing it unbiasedly. It's easy to say, "Congrats, but I should have been on that team. I worked harder than you." Teaching them to say, "Congratulations, you worked really hard for that position. You deserve it," goes a long way in giving that friend a pat on the back.
As a parent I could share that I'd been on both sides. I was one of two people cut from ALL volleyball teams in junior high school. I knew what it was like to have the teacher in charge come and check on you to make sure you were okay. You just weren't any good at that sport. But I also had a trophy I won that I never celebrated because the girl I was up against was a friend, and she came in last after thinking she was going to win. 20+ years later I still have the trophy, but when I look at it I think of her disappointment overshadowing my win.
It's hard to celebrate for your friends when you wanted what they got, but it's equally as hard to celebrate your success when your friends didn't get what you got. It's a vicious circle, but teaching them to be the bigger person and fill their hearts with joy for everyone's successes is more important. Tables turn minute to minute. At some point they'll be the ones on top and wouldn't it be nice if they could enjoy their success because they paved the way for others to be happy for them?
Bernadette Marie is the mother of 5 sons (12,14,14,17,19), a bestselling author, publisher, speaker, event planner, blogger, CEO of 2 companies, and a 2nd degree blackbelt. Often asked how she manages a family of seven, she offers up her advice on home, school, travel, and so much more. Her philosophy is that parenthood is never perfect, but the bumps along the way are what make the best memories.