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ready for battle

My son appeared in the doorway decked out in his uniform and shinguards. His hair flopped in his face and asked, “Dad, who am I battling today?”
Me and my husband both laughed a little and I made a mental note to do a better job of limiting his video game time. 
He looked confused and asked another question, “It is a game right?”
My husband finally responded and said, “I don’t know Owen, I haven’t looked a the schedule yet. And this isn’t Pokemon, just ask who you are playing against.”

He was completely satisfied by this answer, however, I was not going to let a moment for complete cheesiness pass me by. I decided to impart a life lesson on my son which he absolutely did not want.

I told him that he was in fact battling someone today. In that really cute almost too big uniform with socks that went well over his knees.
So again he asked who?
I told him he was battling himself.
He looked at me like I was crazy, which by age nine is a look he has had a lot of time perfecting. I can not imagine what the teenage years have in store for me. I told him that regardless of what team he played against, he was trying to be better than he was the week before. He was battling to try his hardest. Play at his best. Keep going when he was tired and to get back up when he is knocked down. (Which is often). I told him that he can not always control the scoreboard, or the calls, or the opponent, but that he can always do his best to win the battle. 
Even if it means losing the game.

My son is the littlest. 
On his team. 
In his grade.
Of his friends.
He isn’t just little. He is tiny. 
Less than the 2nd percentile for height and weight.
In College Station they have a name for fans who don’t stand up at the game. Who try to leave early when the scoreboard doesn’t look promising. They call these fans two percenters.  For my son, he is a different kind of two percenter. One that I have a whole lot more respect for. The kind that has to take twice as many steps to keep up. That is much more easily knocked down. The kind of faces opponents who literally are twice his size.
That kind of two perecenter might feel like he is going into battle every game.
But I watch him game after game….get back up.
Then run over to the sideline and take a puff on his inhaler.

(start praying for his junior high years now...and FYI …urban dictionary has an additional definition for the phrase two percenter… so you might want to be careful how you use it…don’t say you weren’t warned).

My daughter just finished her first year on the soccer field. This past season she scored in every game. Sometimes four or five goals in a game. Her team was undefeated. I cheered and hoped that I remembered to bring snack on my assigned Saturday.
She learned a little bit about the game, and I learned that as girly and prissy as she can be…
that she grit in her after all.
However, she only knows what it feels like to win.
My son’s team lost every single game.  They lost every single game last season too.
Man, I hated to see those kids look defeated every week.
I still cheered from the sidelines, hoped I remembered snack and prayed my husband wouldn’t yell too loudly. And when they scored (which was usually by my son...and still incredibly rare) the sidelines cheered like they had just won the World Cup.
My son learned something incredibly important.
That losing really sucks but it isn’t the worst thing.
Quitting. Not trying. Not showing up. Those are worse things.
We all like to win, but failure is a much better teacher than success.
It still sucks though.

The last few weeks the US has exploded with World Cup fever.  I am an ex soccer player and fan, but am not quite as devoted as my husband who regularly watches games on Telemundo. I’d also rather spend my Saturday mornings running or drinking coffee than getting up early to watch the English Premier League in any language.  For the World Cup, however, I have been happy to force myself to watch all those really hot fit guys sweat it out for 90 minutes on the pitch. You know, just to make my husband happy.  It also helps that they like to take their shirts off. The US team lost while my family watched from the nosebleeds at Cowboys stadium, because Jerry Jones has the biggest TV of anyone that I know. My daughter just wanted popcorn, and pretzels and cupcakes. My son spent the first 80 or so minutes playing a game on my phone.  But he watched in desperation during the second overtime as the US failed to put another one in the net.  When they finally blew the whistle 121 minutes later…he looked up at me asking if they really lost.
Yes. They really lost.
Just look at your father over there crying in the bleachers.
But the battle. That is a different story.

Then again, maybe a girl wearing red and blue face paint is hard to take seriously.

So, who are you battling today??


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game day

“But I don’t want to go to soccer, I’m tired”
says the boy who has been running circles around the living room for the last hour.

“No, I don’t want to wear my jersey”
says the same boy that slept in his uniform just last week.

And so I do what any good mom would do, which is start bribing my kid.
I promise him ring pops or pizza or new toys for having a good attitude, listening to his coach and trying his best.
But those things are not quite enough to make him eagerly lace up his cleats.

Owen actually loves soccer practice.
And is one of the best dribblers on the teams.
And he loves kicking the ball around the living room and in the front yard.
But games days are hell.
Instead of being a proud momma on the sideline snapping pictures
I am usually trying not to cry.
Because Owen has realized that he isn’t really good at it.
That the other kids are bigger and faster and score more goals.

And today his team won. And they haven’t won many games.
And they cheered and lined up eagerly for patches and sna…