Kids Learning to be Disappointed

Wouldn’t it be nice if our children could go through life without ever knowing what disappointment is? I would love to protect both of my kids from all the disappointments in life – being hurt by friends, losing a loved-one, having their heart broken, getting a bad grade, having a horrible boss or losing a competition. Unfortunately, that’s not really how life works. Working through disappointment as a child, prepares you for how to deal with it as an adult because unfortunately, disappointment is inevitable.

My 5th grade son Joey has been competing in Odyssey of the Mind since kindergarten. I think he is the only kid in his school district who can say that. He loves it. He has been on the same team now for four years. He has qualified at the regional level for the state competition three years in a row now. Unfortunately, the first year, half of our team members were going to be out of town for spring break and were unable to compete. Last year, the team took third place at state. First and second place teams are invited to attend worlds. Since one of the top teams could not attend, Joey’s team was extended an invitation. However, it was in Iowa, about 14 hours away, and very costly, so we were not prepared.

The Team and Coaches

The Team and Coaches

Joey and his teammates went into this year with determination to final for and attend the worlds competition in Michigan. You can see how badly by reading this article and watching the video. The coaches and parents were very supportive. The kids worked really hard putting hours upon hours in to preparing. The team took second place at Regionals. They actually had the highest score on long-term but were a little short on spontaneous, putting them in second. They continued to work hard to prepare for state. They practiced spontaneous over and over and made minor changes to their long-term problem. The day before state one of their teammates came down with a fever. The team immediately came up with plan B and put it into action. They rocked their long-term performance even with the cast change.

Then it came time for spontaneous. The team goes in alone for this – no coaches, no parents. They are told whether it is a verbal or a hands-on and they have one minute to decide which five of the six members will participate. It’s a lot of pressure.  The teammates typically come out saying they did great. Not this time. Joey came out shaking his hand as if he was iffy and holding back tears. They aren’t allowed to tell anyone what the spontaneous was until after awards. I could tell he was ready to bust and was no longer confident he was going to worlds. UGH! The rest of the afternoon, other than when we had a fun team lunch, was spent worrying.

The supportive siblings having a snow ball fight during spontaneous.

The supportive siblings having a snow ball fight during spontaneous.

We arrived for awards. That energy that was present during awards at regionals just wasn’t there. I thought for sure our team would be third place again and we’d have to wait on an invite to worlds. They announced third place and it wasn’t us. I was briefly hopeful. They announced second and again it wasn’t us. Right then I knew… I knew that my son was going to be heartbroken. The first place team was announced… it wasn’t us. I looked at my son’s face and my heart literally ached. As awards finished we hurried out to the car knowing he was holding it back as much as he could. The tears were welling up. As I hugged him I told him how proud I was of him for taking sixth at the state level. It was his dad’s weekend so he hopped in the car with him. I could feel his sadness as they pulled away. This is one of the times in my life that I hated my every other weekend arrangement. I wanted to take him home with me, hug him, tell him it was okay, eat ice cream out of the tub and watch movies that would make us laugh. I didn’t get to do that. Instead, I received text messages from him for about two hours telling me how sad and disappointed and even a little angry he was. I told him I loved him and to get some rest.

chocolate therapyHe and his sister came home the next evening. I was waiting for him with open arms and a small tub of “chocolate therapy” ice cream. In no way am I trying to teach him to eat his feelings away but sometimes ice cream really can fix anything. Joey always tells me “Money can’t buy happiness but it can buy ice cream and that’s basically the same thing.” We sat on the couch as both kids dug in with a spoon and laughed about what was on cream

Joey is still disappointed but he’s coping. He’s already thinking about next year and what his team can do to prepare even more. I don’t know if he’ll be going to World’s in 2014 but I am sure he will one of these years. His determination and hard work will get him there. Until then…. He may have to deal with disappointment. How do you prepare your kids for disappointment?

Team and family lunch (37 people)

Team and family lunch (37 people)

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Team Work On and Off the Field

Like many people, I often feel like I need a break after the busy weekend. Most of my weekends are focused on my daughter’s soccer schedule. She plays club soccer, which includes two trainings a week and one to three games a weekend. She also plays indoor in the winter so soccer is truly year-round for us. People without children or those who have children who aren’t involved in activities and sports often ask me why I put so much time and energy into a sport. I immediately tell them that organized sports and activities promote confidence, health and teamwork.  My daughter has built friendships, learned to take direction from other adults outside the classroom and work hard for something she wants. The training that Northern Kentucky Soccer Academy provides is intense but my daughter looks forward to it each week.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve seen how these skills have translated in her life off the field. The 18 members of Team Fusion, who joined together earlier this fall, have become fast friends. These girls truly enjoy being together. And although they haven’t had a lot of wins on the field, they have learned how to work well together on and off the field.

Two weeks ago the girls had a two hour break between games. We set up lunch for the team and cornhole for the parents. The girls discovered several ears of corn nearby. Next thing we know, the team is sitting in a circle shucking corn. They then scraped the corn off the cob into a large box. This may seem like such a silly task, but they worked as a team to do this. They were laughing and working together the entire time. They were entertained, saved their energy for the next game, bonded and used teamwork to accomplish a goal they set for themselves. They then decided to give the corn to their coach so he could feed the squirrels in his yard.

On Friday, the coaches and a few parents took the team to watch the NKU men’s soccer game. The girls were so excited to cheer their trainer Kevin on during the game. Earlier that week the girls devised a plan. Several of them met at one house immediately after school to make posters and T-shirts. Five of the girls made shirts that went together K on one shirt, E on the next, V on the next and well you get it. The girls worked together for about three hours on their shirts and posters.

Although I love soccer, I often feel that my life revolves around it. However, it is times like these that make me know it’s totally worth it. My daughter has created long-lasting friendships, learned to work well with other people on many levels and become more confident on and off the field. I’ve also had the opportunity to make good friends by sitting on the sidelines week after week with the same parents.

Go Fusion![slidesho

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