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How you play the game

62 - That's my boy!

If you’re a regular here, you probably already know I live in a little town just west of Houston. Houstonians might call us a suburb, but we’re fond of our independence. You may also know that my son plays on the freshman football team at his school. Or I should say, he plays for one of the freshman teams–there’s two. The “A” team consists mostly of boys who have been playing football since pee-wee league and/or are naturally gifted athletes. The “B” team consists of everyone else. My son is on the “B” team, which suits him just fine. He told me before school started that he would rather be a starter on the “B” team than a bench warmer on the “A” team, and that’s exactly how things have worked out. And did I mention that his team is 4-0? No? Well then, his team is 4-0.

Texans take their high school football very seriously–some more than others. The high school team to beat in our district bears the same name as our town, and it is extremely rare that anyone ever does–beat them, that is. From their freshman squads to their varsity team, they regularly beat their opponents by 50 points or more. It’s not enough to win, their philosophy demands that they crush their opponents. If your son’s not a starter, he may as well be the water boy. He’ll get about the same amount of playing time.

I’m not a fan of that philosophy. Oh, I’m not one of those mamby-pamby parents who think that everyone’s a winner and a kid should get a trophy just for showing up, but what kind of life lessons do we want our kids to take with them as they move on to adulthood? That winning is everything, no matter how you play the game? Maybe it would better to teach them that winning is important, but how you win (or lose) will speak volumes about what kind of leader, what kind of person you may become.

The following is an excerpt from a letter sent to the head coach of our team from a parent whose son played on the opposing team last week. The team he’s referring to isn’t the team my son plays on, but the coaches are the same for both “A” and “B”. The fact that this was “A” team’s first victory of the season adds weight to the content of the letter (I’ve taken out specific names, but the rest is word for word):

Dear Coach,

I know you are busy getting ready for your big game vs. our varsity tomorrow night, but I wanted to send you a quick note to compliment your staff on how they handled the Freshmen A team game last night.

Your Freshmen squad scored at will and logged 24 points to our zero, and it probably could have been a lot worse…our team ran back the opening 2nd half kick-off, and at that point your coaches could have come back with that, “well I show them mind set”…but instead they continued to play their 2nd team and move their regular starters around.

The final score was 36 – 24, with your team kneeling the ball on the one yard line as the clock ran out. So because of the class displayed by your coaches, our boys could walk off the field with some dignity.

And as I football zealot, I know your team could have put 60+ points on the board if they wanted to.

Good luck the rest of the season and I hope your team wins every game…well, except for the one tomorrow night.


A Parent

I’ve never been much of a football fan until my son started playing last year, but I am now convinced that team sports in general and football specifically can teach kids invaluable life lessons they will carry with them always. Perhaps the least of which is about winning.

Pardon me while I rant incessantly: Celebrating mediocrity

image courtesy of

Today’s post was supposed to be a revamping of a Dr. Seuss classic. I’ve got the intro written, but when I sat down for a rewrite, I just wasn’t feeling it. Since I believe any parody worth doing is worth doing well, I’m going to let it stew for awhile and see if I can get it right. Instead, I thought I’d share some personal observations from an awards ceremony I attended at my daughter’s school today.

The good news is that we have a high level of parent involvement and participation at the elementary school my daughter attends. The bad news is that all that parent involvement and participation makes it virtually impossible to find a good parking spot for any school event unless you get there at least 30 minutes ahead of time. I was fortunate to arrive early enough to find a spot to parallel park among the other cars using the carpool lane as a makeshift parking lot. Parents arriving just moments after me were forced to park illegally in the field across from the school. Did I mention that this awards ceremony was ONLY for the 4th grade class? (Yeah, yeah. I know–I have no reason to gripe about parents showing up to support their kids. But hey, it was hot outside. And I was in a dress. You feel sorry for me already, don’t you?)

But I’m not here to complain about the school’s inadequate parking.

I’m here to complain about our inadequate expectations for our children.

When I was in elementary school, I made all A’s and B’s because that’s what was expected of me and because if I brought home a report card with a C, I was expected to come home from school each day and study whatever subject (let’s call it “math”) I had earned that C in until I brought it back up to an A or B. There was no such thing as “A and B honor roll” and I didn’t get a certificate of achievement at the end of the year. There were always kids who struggled in school; kids who failed a grade or two. Heck, I graduated high school with a guy who was just shy of his twenty-first birthday, but when he walked across that stage and received his diploma, he had earned it.

Nowadays we’re so concerned about “no child left behind” that administrators have teachers teaching our kids how to pass standardized tests, not how to think for themselves. Failing kids means loss of federal funding, so educators do everything they can to make sure kids don’t fail those tests. Oftentimes memorization and rote thinking takes the place of the experience of learning how to learn, comprehend and retain knowledge. How else could you possibly explain how a person could graduate high school without knowing how to read?

What I’m about to say may be shocking and unacceptable to some, but here goes:

We need to allow our children to fail.

In school, in sports, in relationships, in life. Allow them small failures when they’re young and they will be equipped to handle and even avoid large failures when they’re older. Parents and educators need to stop saving them all the time, telling them, “It’s okay this time, but don’t do it again.” Because you know what? If you do that, it’s NOT okay and they WILL do it again. We’re indoctrinating an entire generation of dependence and entitlement, evidenced by an attitude that everything good in their lives is because they deserve it and everything bad is someone else’s fault. (I blame Shel Silverstein and The Giving Tree for much of this, but that’s a whole other rant.)

Today I attended a 4th grade awards ceremony in my daughter’s classroom. Every class in every grade level has one. Each child stands up and shakes the teacher’s hands while three awards are announced. Most kids have more, but only three of their choosing are allowed to be announced. Why? Because three is the minimum number any child can receive. Essentially, if the child has a pulse, is registered at the school and shows up for class they get an award. Which means my daughter’s classmate who has never made less than a 98 on anything he’s ever turned in, who reads at a high school level and is being tested to skip the 5th grade is equally recognized with the kid who rarely turns in his work and is a constant disruption in class. The star athlete, the exceptional artist, the accomplished musician and even the class clown don’t have their exceptional abilities recognized above anyone else for fear of damaging anyone’s precious self-esteem.

When everyone and everything is exceptional, no one or nothing really is.

That’s unacceptable.

Another Award

Carol at She Lives awarded me a memeish award. I don’t actually know what a “memeish award” is. Candy (aka Candace Jean at Steele the Day) gave me an award last week (or was it the week before?) for being an awesome blogger. It probably should have been the “awesome slacker” award. That’s a title I carry proudly. I honestly appreciate the accolades, and I’m going to do this one for Carol because she plays bass, and that’s just cool beans. Not that Candy isn’t cool — she’s wicked awesome! But I forgot what I’m supposed to do for the other award, and I think I lost the little picture thingy. People should not give me awards unless they are going to cut and paste them to my blog themselves and forward all the necessary necessities to the aforementioned appropriate parties. Not that I’m complaining mind you. Okay, I kinda am, but I do appreciate it! Okay, so I’m actually not going to forward this cuz I’m just all kinds of lazy.

However, for the honor of displaying this fantabulous jpeg of a metal traffic sign, you must:

A) first list 10 honest things about yourself – and make it interesting, even if you have to dig deep!

B) pass the award on to 7 bloggers that you feel embody the spirit of the Honest Scrap.

So allow me to lay down some deep truths about yours truly:

1) When I was a very young girl, I had a major crush on Peter Frampton. I had this ginormous poster of him in my room. It didn’t have “Rolling Stone” on it, but that was the picture in the center. I would get up real close to Pete and stare longingly into his glossy paper eyes. I listened to “Frampton Comes Alive” over and over, bought Peter Frampton “I’m in You” and somehow convinced myself that it was even a fraction as good as the live album (which it was NOT!) I even paid cold hard cash to see Peter Frampton and the Bee Gees (for crying out loud) star in St. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. This was a seriously bad movie. So, have you seen Peter Frampton lately? He looks like the CPA that does our taxes. Okay, sorry. We’re supposed to be honest. I’ve never actually met our CPA, but I certainly wouldn’t think twice about giving this guy a copy of my W-2 form.

2) When I’m in a goofy mood, I have a real hard time being serious about anything. Now THAT’s the truth! There are certain things that I don’t think I could ever joke about, but I think life’s too short to be all serious and intense all the time. I figure, God made me the way I am for a reason. I think I can use humor to dispel the notion that being a Christian means not having any fun and possibly reach someone that is can appreciate the spiritual gift of sarcasm. At least, that’s what I’m betting the farm on. Because if God doesn’t have a sense of humor, I think it’s a foregone conclusion that I’m pretty much toast. (Now see, I was going to use another descriptive there, but I cleaned it up. Clearly, I’m maturing, right?)

3) I cannot stand phoniness. I took a spiritual gifts assessment and I scored high in the “mercy” category. But I have neither the time nor the patience for big fat fakers! End of rant.

4) Even though I write like I talk, I do a better job conveying a concept or an idea in writing because when I write, I can spit all this stuff out that’s in my head and not worry about whether it makes sense. I can make it make sense later. Me talking is like the unedited version of a blog post. I get some blank stares. Granted, I probably get a similar reaction when some read my blog, but sometimes that’s intentional. Besides, if people don’t “get” me, it’s not like
there’s any shortage of blogs out there to read.

5) I am a really good friend. No really, I am. If you’re my friend, I’ve totally got your back. Just don’t lie to me. Dishonest people rate right up there with phonies. The only notable exception to this rule would be if I were to ask you, “Do these jeans make my butt look fat?” Cuz if you said no, I know you’re lying. All jeans make my butt look fat. I’m pretty sure it’s some kind of conspiracy.

6) I have close family members that have held on to unforgiveness for over 30 years. It is literally eating them alive from the inside out. It is heartbreaking that they don’t seem to realize that it is poisoning every aspect of their lives. I have tried to talk to them, but since I am the youngest child, in many ways I am still considered that dumb little sister that doesn’t know what she’s talking about.

8) I was raised going to church, but I didn’t have the slightest idea who Jesus really is. Church was somewhere you went on Sunday, heard some relatively amusing stories about whales and arks, a guy named Jesus who really loved the little children, and a big God who knew if you had been naughty or nice. Then everybody got the go to Sizzler for a chopped steak and the all you can eat salad bar.

9) When I was in my twenties, I had a group of friends that did not believe in God. I felt such a sense of fellowship with them that I began to adopt their philosophy of “I believe in myself”, thinking that it was some great truth. This experience helped me realize the importance of developing real, honest relationships with new believers. They long for a connection; a real sense of fellowship. Don’t abandon them. I believe it is Christians, and not God, who have caused people to turn away. I also believe that we will all be held accountable for this – BIG TIME.

10) I skipped number 7. (Just to annoy Angela.)