I found a basket of memories yesterday, and I sat on the closet floor and enjoyed them for a while.
Time stood still, and then pleasantly rolled backwards as I sifted through sports buttons from all those frantic years of active parenting.
All four of my kids played on teams with varying degrees of talent and intensity. I recall laid-back soccer seasons during which I simply strolled across the street to watch games in the park and the most exciting thing we cheered was the extraction of our six-year old neighbor, who had twirled himself into an impressive net entanglement.
I noted my daughter Katherine’s perfectly coiffed hair in each of her sports buttons and chuckled when I remembered that we had asked her to choose at least one sport in high school and Katherine, a theatre kid from birth, chose golf, “because you don’t have to sweat and the season ends before try-outs for the fall play begins.”
I found 15 different football buttons, no surprise given our family’s love of that sport. In fact, I’m sure I am missing a few. I can trace our family’s experience from chubby cheeks to chiseled and each button tells a whole chapter book story of triumph and tears.
We had Pizza King on speed dial during my sons’ high school football runs, hosted Wednesday night film sessions for the offensive linemen, and routinely called in our Friday night orders from the high school parking lot as we waited for our exhausted and hungry athletes to make their way to the car.
Here’s what I believe those years taught all of our kids:
- You have to try. My kids didn’t always win and, occasionally, they didn’t even make the team. But, I think they all learned the value of honest effort. I still tell them to “sprint to the finish” of various projects and, thanks to the sports they played, they know exactly what I mean.
- Don’t quit. They’ve played through rain, snow, nagging injury and general frustration. But they always kept moving forward. I thought a blustery wind would blow our daughter right off the track during an unseasonably snowy middle school track meet, but she kept her head up, her feet moving and eventually she crossed the finish line. It’s an image and a life lesson I hope they all remember.
- Respect your teammates. Football is an excellent example of this because you need all 11 players to work together or you’re not going to get anything done. I like the diversity of culture, economics, abilities and interests good teams attract and how you might not agree with the player next to you’s taste in music, but you still admire his or her jump off the ball.
- Listen to your coach. Our kids enjoyed excellent coaches through the years, but they each experienced a clunker or two along the way as well. In the case of the excellent coaches, they listened, learned and became better players and people for the experience. In the case of the clunkers, they listened, and addressed any specific issue with them privately. Even then they learned valuable lessons in how to maintain your dignity and stand up for your beliefs.
- Have fun. If you can’t find the joy in your sport, you shouldn’t be playing it.
I’m not very crafty, but I’m planning to turn all of those buttons into ornaments this year, and I’m looking forward to the family stories they inspire.