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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Lessons in Losing

I sit in a lot of bleachers, a lot of the time.  I sit in cold, metal bleachers in April when baseball season starts and it’s supposed to be Spring and I sit on burning hot bleachers in July.  I sit in bleachers in smelly middle school gyms and on the hard concrete surfaces of  the "stage" in the elementary schools.  And really, I don't notice that much what I'm sitting on because I am watching my boys.  And even though I'm not supposed to be,  I am usually fidgeting around a lot and sometimes pacing around a lot and hoping for a BIG FAT WIN.  There, I said it.  I like winning.  I don't like losing. 

Not long ago, I couldn’t really pay attention because I was trying to entertain a toddler during his older brother’s(s’) practice(s)/game(s).  I barely knew when the game was over or what the score was.  But, this is the new season of my life.  The point is that I can actually watch the game.  And during games I actually get to notice how my boy is playing and keep up with the score and all that stuff.   I’m actually learning the rules and sometimes understanding the play and sometimes thinking, “Dear Lord, buddy, don’t try that play again.  Of all the games and all the different sports and all the runs, baskets and goals I’ve watched, you would think I would be a professional when it comes to comforting my kids when they lose with that very popular “It’s about having fun” line.  And it is about having fun.  Everyone always says that.  And I know that is true.  But do you know what is actually fun?  Winning.  Winning  is really, really fun.  It really is so much more fun than losing.  I know because I used to beat my kids at Candyland all the time.

The basketball season this year brought an interesting mix of highs and lows which I guess will be the case when you are following three different teams for three different boys and one assistant coach/husband.  We had a Championship for one boy, a 3 and 6 season for one boy and then that one season for one boy with a lot of losses.  Big losses.  Like "getting-your–butt-handed-to-you" losses. (A side note:  No, boys, you are still not allowed to say "butt".)  Anyway, honestly, I know that there are great lessons for my boys to learn in the midst of losing seasons or losing every single game as the case may be.  That whole, "In this world you will have trouble" thing from John 16:33?  I know this.  I know that the trouble of the world for my boys can and will be much more challenging than dealing with losing a 5th grade basketball or Little League game.  So, being the adults with great perspective and wisdom, my husband and I try to provide all those feel-good quotes about losing as we leave the field and/or court once we are all piled, sweaty and breathless(and that includes me), into the SUV.   

1.  You know bud, it's all about having fun.

2.  You know guys, it's really about how you played the game and you played really hard.

3.  You know, when you tried to foul that guy that was as big as daddy?  I thought perhaps that was not the most intelligent decision since it sent you flying halfway down the court, but it did show me how tough you are.  I got it now, ok?  So let's not do that again.

4.  You know, buddy, the scoreboard doesn't always tell the whole story.

5.  You know, kiddo, losing builds character.  You've got to know how to lose, to know how to win.  And I'm pretty sure that Kenny Rogers sang that in the Gambler, so it's gotta be true.

6.  You know, Kobe and LeBron and Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia and all those guys?  They've had lots of losses, too. 

So I do have a lot of experience in trying to console my little athletes, but as the record for Kyle's basketball team fell to 0 and 9 and my boy and his buddy climbed into the car, I was a little stumped.  I racked my brain for a new catch phrase: 

”Um...well, guys, read any good books lately?”
They didn’t get it.  So I followed with, “Who’s up for Dairy Queen?”  That, they understood.  Rather than focus on the score (59-26), we decided to focus on Kyle’s buddy sinking a beautiful 3 point shot and Kyle launching the ball up in the last two seconds for a buzzer beater; ergo the respectable score of 59-26 and not the super-embarrassing 59-21.  So we went to Dairy Queen for Blizzards all around and we laughed and made fun of how badly our team lost and then we decided to aim next week to lose by less than 15 points.  The lesson is that although losing really stinks, friends and sports and ice cream and giggling and boys who still love playing their game in the driveway and on the lawn and on the court and on the field, win or lose, are, in the words of the very quotable Charlie Sheen: WINNING!

By the way, below you will see the scoreboard from the game in which the aim was to lose by less than 15 points.  Sigh.  Extra M&Ms in that blizzard, please, Mr. Dairy Queen Man.

PS  Dear Tom Brady, You looked really bummed sitting there with your head down after the Super Bowl.  You should go get a Blizzard.  It really helps.  And guess what?  They also have chili dogs.  The women of America really feel like you should take Giselle to Dairy Queen with you and we’re pretty sure she should eat a chili dog or three herself.  Seriously, it’ll make y'all feel much better.  You’re welcome, Tommy.


Anonymous said...

A very enjoyable read. I too -- like winning. Cheers, Rich Kelsey

Anonymous said...

Is Drew crying beause he lost or had to wear a Yankee uniform?
This was a gem, Tommy B. and all!!!
Love, Mrs. C.

Tomi said...

Like you told me one time "Go get a Fish burger from McDonalds, those always made you feel better when you were a kid." So true! Nothing a good blizzard can't fix! Love you!