Ohps, My Past is Showing

Last week I endured one of the most embarrassing experiences of my life. My second grader threw what could best be described as a full scale hissy fit during her first soccer practice. She flung up her arms, wailed and insisted she couldn’t do it, ignored the coaches’ gentle prodding and begged me to come onto the field to practice with her.

It was a mess and my insides were screaming from humiliation. I felt like I tried every parenting tip I remembered. Deep breaths, encouragement, briefly removing her from the situation, and attempting to get her to discuss her feelings–the whole bag. Nothing seemed to work. For the entire hour of practice my daughter resisted touching the ball and cooperating with teammates as if they all had a maddening infectious case of poison ivy.

To state I felt frustrated would be a wildly inaccurate understatement. I can recall few times in my life when I felt that utterly helpless. Two moms jumped to my rescue to watch my younger girls on the play equipment so I could join my screaming daughter on the field, then remove her and walk off to the car, then return back to the field to encounter even more resistance. Good times.

When I got home and shared the event with my husband, I remember telling him I’d been more disappointed in how she treated the coaches with disrespect and how she didn’t put forth even an attempted effort than that she’d struggled with her first practice.

Struggling I get. Lack of respect and effort…that raked over me. Then I called my parents to recount the practice. My mom, listened as always, but my dad said something that stung. And I needed to get stung.

He said, “I remember someone else reacting that way when they were scared.” Let’s just say I didn’t need him to tell me who. And then as if a coil sprung inside me, I recognized my anger and frustration had not just been at my daughter at practice that day.

I’d seen myself in her, as a child, fearful and obstinate in that fear. My embarrassment hadn’t just been about her actions and her behavior, but also about who I’ve been and who I can be. I had to look at my ugly in order to appropriately address the ugly she displayed.

I’m happy to say this story has a good ending. After praying with my daughter and helping her become as familiar with soccer drills as possible, she bravely took on her second practice. And you know what? She has skill. She played her first game this weekend and my girl, well, I risk letting the soccer mom in me slip out, but my girl’s got game.

Point: Often when we struggle with anger or embarrassment, there’s something about the experience that might look a whole lot like a plank as opposed to the wooden speck we’re observing.

2 Responses to Ohps, My Past is Showing
  1. Jackie
    September 18, 2009 | 2:17 pm

    Wow, I felt like I was reading my own story. This same situation just happened with my 3rd grade son on the baseball field not even 3 weeks ago. We came to the same conclusion that he was embarrassed and scared and he reacted in the same way. It was very embarrassing for me and my husband. My own thoughts were about how the other parents were probably viewing my parenting skills, etc.. However, after it happened it really opened our eyes to how our son handles stressful situations and how we can help him through it. Thanks so much for this. I can’t wait to share this story with my husband.

  2. Summur Braley
    September 22, 2009 | 8:52 am

    That story gave me chills. I feel for you! It is so fun and hard to see our selves in our children. Praise Him for His loving grace when we act like children.