A guest post by Allison Whitworth of Look for the Joy
I was out on the soccer field today watching about 25 U-11 kids play soccer. Not one of the players was related to me or was one of my students. I cheered for them all. My son was the ref.
I have been watching both of my boys do one thing or another for a very long time. My husband and I do our best to go to everything. I’ve watched them play soccer, perform in school musicals, play instruments, sing, act, dance, march, run, referee and even paint. I watch with pride and awe as they put themselves on the line again and again.
I especially love to watch all of the kids running cross country. I clap and cheer for kids I don’t know and cry when strangers’ children sprint for the finish line. No matter where they are finishing they give it their all at the end. I love to watch as they dig deep and push themselves to their limit.
I also cheer for that kid near the end who didn’t think they were even going to finish, but does. It really isn’t about winning, having done the right amount of training or pacing yourself. It is just about being there to cheer. I cheer with all my might! At the end of the race I am hoarse and worn out because I am that crazy mom who runs back and forth across the course to catch another glimpse of her kids.
When my boys were little I loved to shout from the sideline ‘Play with joy!’ They hated that. Sorry, but I didn’t like all the pushing and shoving and sometimes nastiness that I often saw on the field and I didn’t like what some parents would yell to their kids so I was trying to set a good example.
Now when I go to games I stand next to a parent who is complaining about the ref and pleasantly ask who their child is. I say something nice about their player and wait for them to ask me. ‘Mine is the ref,’ I say and then quietly walk away. Makes them remember that we are all someone’s kid, we are all there to show support, and we are all trying our best. In the big scheme of things we are all on the same team.
My husband and I go to all of these events because it matters to us. We want to cheer for their successes, encourage them, stand up for them and put an arm around them if they are disappointed. It is fun to see them win, but it is more important to be there when they don’t.
Sometimes when we have traveled an hour or more to see our children participate in something, we are part of a small group of other parents who made the journey. It is a message we are sending to our kids about our family. We are there for you, no matter what. Even if you don’t really care that we came. Some day when you think back on your family you will realize that we didn’t miss out on showing our support for whatever you were doing. We loved you. We showed up.
Allison has been teaching kindergarten and first graders for over 25 years. She is the mother of two boys and likes to look at the brighter side of life. She began writing her blog just days after tragedy hit her small town. She writes about life, parenting, politics, religion, looking for the joy and more… when she isn’t teaching or writing, you can find her bicycling around Douglas County with her husband of 24 years. Find more of her work at Look for the Joy.