Just (Try to) Do It.

I was watching my oldest daughter play soccer on Friday night.  I’ve watched my oldest daughter play soccer since she was 5.  I’ve watched her enjoy playing soccer for the past 5 seasons.   I’ve watched my little girl, since she was 5, for 5 seasons; play a game she is not very good at.

Yes, my daughter is not a very good soccer player.  Although it pains me (like Spiderman deliberately ignoring his Spider-Sense), I indeed said it.  It’s true.  Hannah is not a very good soccer player. I have never been of the ilk to believe my children have been chosen for some predestined on the field greatness.  I’m not reliving my childhood aspirations through them.  I have no desire to come to fisticuffs with coaches if she were not to play enough minutes in a game.  I want to cheer at everything, not yell at mistakes or missed opportunities.  I want my kids to play sports for what they were intended to be, fun.  Most of all I want my daughter to try.

But we live in a ‘Just Do It’ Nike culture. So I ask myself, is the most important lesson for my children to learn, ‘Just Do It’?  Or is it more important for them to recognize, sometimes, you can’t, just do it?  Sometimes you fall.  Sometimes you miss the goal (or the ball altogether).  Sometimes you lose but that shouldn’t stop you from trying and then trying again if need be.  Shouldn’t I be teaching them, in order to do anything, we first need to try (and maybe fail)?  Shouldn’t I also be teaching them, when we do fail, it does not mean we quit but we try harder next time (this is exactly philosophy my cousin Carl and I used to finish Kid Icarus on the old Nintendo after about 13hrs of continuous playing)?

The worst thing I could think of would be for her to stop trying.  What if my kids had stopped trying to walk (I’d most likely own the largest and most uncomfortable baby carrier in the world and have 4 to 5 herniated discs)?  What if, because they didn’t start talking by reciting the Gettysburg Address, they stopped trying to talk completely (Thus never saying ‘Dada’ before ‘Momma’)?  The lesson is, my children’s entire lives have been made up of trying.

But haven’t all of our lives have been made up of trying? When we failed, we tried again until we were finally able, as Nike tells us, to just do it.  A trait I think is much more important because it’s easy to say ‘just do it’ but it’s hard to dust yourself off after failing and keep trying to do it.

This is why, as I see Hannah running around the field with determination in her eyes, sweat on her forehead, and her tongue slightly sticking out of her mouth, I know it’s not important whether or not she can loft the corner kick over the defender’s head, it’s important she doesn’t stop trying.

I played basketball.  I was not the greatest basketball player, I knew this, but it never stopped me from trying.  I tried harder than anyone on the court (whenever I was lucky enough to get on the court).  I kept trying, even as my prowess on the pine peaked at ‘pretty good but not great’.  So I suspect Hannah will continue to play soccer and maybe, as she keeps going, she will become great.  Or maybe she will be good or even just ok.  There’s nothing wrong with any of those outcomes.  Because since she was 5, she has never been discouraged.  As other kids were doing kicks she couldn’t do, she never stopped trying to do those kicks too.

I’m watching her this past Friday night and I don’t care if she scores 6 goals and has 5 assists or can’t get out of her own way because I see how much fun she is having and how hard she is trying. Its written all over her face.  As she continues on (in soccer or anything else), if she continues to try to do, I don’t care if she ends up being great, good, or ok because I’ll never stop cheering and never stop being proud of her.

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14 responses to “Just (Try to) Do It.

  1. Okay…this pains me to say, but Yoda was wrong. There, I said it. Are you happy now?!

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  2. Good post – good perspective for all kids of all skill levels. Very skilled and confident players often find challenging situations when they move up to more advanced leagues. Their parents need this perspective when they watch their once superstar kid struggle against newly found superior competition.

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  3. So true. I have been practicing with my oldest son to catch a fly ball. After hitting him about 30 balls he finally caught his first one. I asked him, “do you know why you caught that one?” Before he could answer I picked up a ball from the ground and said, “because you missed this one…and this one…and this one..” In a few seconds he was retrieving his “failures” along with me, and repeating the same phrase with a smile on his face. I can’t think of a better way to ensure your kid’s future success than getting them to accept failure as part of their growth and development

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    • I can’t tell you how many soccer balls we’ve tried to kick with the inside of our feet, how many pull backs and dribbling drills we’ve done. She never stops though and she keeps trying no matter how many times she fails. You said it perfectly, “I can’t think of a better way to ensure your kid’s future success than getting them to accept failure as part of their growth and development”.

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  4. As a coach on my son’s Little League team, in an environment that can be very serious and get very political, I only have two requirements:

    You have fun.

    You learn something every time out that will enhance your love of the game.

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  5. I think the most important thing you said is that she’s having fun. I think we as parents fail when we push our kids to try certain things (I’m not talking about everything, like homework) when they have no interest in the activity. It’s not about being the best, but doing our best. I believe when we do that, we discover our natural gifts and abilities. And then the cream just naturally rises to the top.

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  6. Random, but hilarious comment about wesley snipes. So true. If blade comes on at 3 am, I have to watch it, all the way through. Same thing with Fletch, and Dazed and Confused.

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