It’s been more than a month since my last post and I am shamelessly blaming my kids for my cyber absence. They’re always around now! School’s out, our schedules have changed and we’re still not really in a good rhythm because each week is different. Except for travel lacrosse. The three travel lacrosse team schedules we juggle have been pretty consistent since late May and after two months of practices, six tournaments, three states and three Championship titles, I am happy to say that we just wrapped up the summer season. It’s a little bitter-sweet, but I am ready to move on and enjoy some pool/beach time.
It’s been a successful run. Despite losing this past weekend in the Championship game, my boys collected three “Champion” t-shirts between them. Apparently, winners’ t-shirts are the new thing. No more medals that are thrown in a dresser drawer, never to be seen again. No more trophies that get placed on an already crowded shelf, only to collect dust. Just simple, cotton t-shirts emblazoned with the tournament logo and the word “Champion,” received gleefully and worn immediately upon receipt. I don’t know who decided to move away from the useless hardware and hand out clothing instead, but he/she is a genius!
Case in point: During the winter, my younger son’s rec league basketball team won their division. Each member of the winning team was given a yellow “U” hoodie. The coveted “U” hoodie, to be precise, because everyone in the district knows that only champions can have those sweatshirts. My then-9-year-old wore his for 12 straight days before I was finally able to peel it off his body to wash it. Again, genius!
Speaking of champions, the Tarr boys were on a bit of a streak this year. In addition to the aforementioned winning basketball season and two of the three summer lacrosse titles, my 4th grader’s CYO flag football team was undefeated, he advanced to the semi-finals of the Philadelphia Archdiocese CYO meet in the 800m and he ran the lead leg in the 4x100m at the historic Penn Relays. As for my 7th grader, no coveted hoodie this year, but his middle school football and lacrosse teams were undefeated, his middle school basketball team finished with a winning 9-3 record while his rec league team lost in the semi-finals and his CYO team won their division. And to cap it off, before his 13th birthday, he placed 4th in the shot put at the Philadelphia Archdiocese Championship meet. Thankfully, there were a couple of losing teams mixed in to keep their egos in check, but overall, it was a good sports year for the Tarr boys.
Here’s the thing, though … You won’t read about their wins on my Facebook feed or Twitter account. Why not? I have three simple reasons:
- I don’t like redundancy. Before we’ve even walked off the field or out of the gym, someone else has already posted a team photo and congratulatory message on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, so there’s no need for me to do it, too.
- My boys are not winners alone. It takes a team to win championships, not one individual (with the exception of their track and field accomplishments).
- I’m happy for them when they win, but I’m not actually proud of them for winning. I think there’s a subtle difference.
It may be harsh, but my kids really aren’t that special. They are 10 and 13. Occasionally they do something great, but most of the time they’re just normal kids. Yes, they are athletic, but I won’t praise their natural talents. I prefer to focus on their effort and attitude … Did you practice and prepare? Did you try your hardest? Did you play fair? Were you a good sport/polite/well-behaved (the latter two applying to school, not sports!)? Did you have fun? These questions apply on the field and in the classroom — and in life, in general. Being good at something and having natural talent is wonderful, but it only gives you a head start. Dedication, drive and passion are what set champions apart.
In addition to handwork, a true champions always displays good sportsmanship. This year, I watched my older son somberly embrace his goalie after a tough loss, my younger son gleefully chest-bump a teammate after his first basket (which came during the final game of the season) and both my boys routinely shake hands with and thank the referees after their respective games. Those are the moments that made me the most proud of my boys. Yes, there were plenty of brag-worthy highlights for each of them that made me happy, but it was their honest displays of unity that warmed my heart.
Every game offers life lessons. I hope my boys are learning to be compassionate, caring, hardworking leaders.