I wasn’t sure I wanted to share this piece, but the more I sit with it, the more I know it is a reflection of what so many people experience at the beginning of a sports season.
I wrote this Thursday morning:
It’s 3:53 am. I am wide awake after fitfully sleeping for only 3 ½ hours…and there is no possibility that I could go back to sleep.
This isn’t the way it should be.
I haven’t received any troubling health news, nor have we lost a dear friend or family member. My kids and my husband are soundly sleeping upstairs, our dog is cuddled in the covers, and there is no truly acceptable reason to feel as full of grief as I do. It is a loss though, I guess. A ridiculous-don’t-ask-me-because-it-sounds-so-stupid-when-I-say-it-outloud…grief.
Our son was cut from a hockey team last night. A team he could probably play for, but that my husband and I have secretly hoped for months he wouldn’t make.
So here we are. We got exactly what we wanted, but the way it has played out in real-time was not what I had expected.
What I hadn’t anticipated was the waiting. I hadn’t considered how it would feel waiting for our son to wake up to the news. What I hadn’t counted on was the misery knowing he will finally drag his exhausted, growing, 12-year-old body out of bed, after skating three hours last night, only to find out that there really are inexplicable inequities in the world.
He’s going to find out that he is one of 10 kids who will have skated 4 extra hours over the course of two days…doubling up with football…for nothing.
He made the first pool cut from 100 down to 30, and he wanted to make this next cut of 10 players…not so he could tell people that he “almost” made the A team…not because he really had this burning desire to play with some of these kids again this year. He wanted to make the second cut, because that guaranteed him a spot on a B1 team, and he would not have to skate during his much-anticipated-first-dance of junior high.
Now he is where he started at the beginning of the week, before the marathon of football to hockey to eating to sleep. According to the tryout gods, he is at the exact level of all the boys vying for spots on a B1 team, and he starts over, missing his dance… to tryout again.
He’s back to having nothing guaranteed, and he does not have a sure spot on a team at the B1 level: a level that he comfortably played on all year last year.
None of that matters now. And maybe it shouldn’t. Maybe he’s really not good enough this year.
I wish I could convince myself of that.
So without a clear understanding…without a concrete answer to give to him when he asks “why?” my head starts down the path that so many people go in this situation.
Fair or not…real or perceived…my thoughts swirl as I try to make sense of something that I don’t understand either.
I cannot help but to consider that we have the wrong last name. Maybe our name has increasingly become a thorn in the side of many people who have much more influence than we do.
Maybe we bucked the system too much last year, challenging the authority. Maybe we chose the wrong off-season program…Maybe it’s because we chose to opt-out of the in-season program. I don’t know…and that’s the whole problem. For families who operate on a set of beliefs and then are thrown down an entirely new path, there is a real process of coming to terms so that they can operate under an entirely new reality.
What he’ll learn this morning is that there are inexplicable disappointments…
It’s entirely likely that he didn’t have a solid tryout, and there will need to be some ownership in that. What will be more difficult is knowing the depth and breadth of his contribution to all the teams he has played on so far, and when it came down to making decisions between him and a potentially equally matched player, he didn’t have what they were looking for.
So…I wait. I wait for him to get up. I wait for the inevitable tears. I wait for disbelief, pain, and anger. I wait for the questioning and a search for explanation. And then I’ll wait for the eventual glint of acceptance and a fortified decision to move forward anyway. It will look like a movement through grief, and if I am grateful for anything, I’m grateful that I had time to do some of my own grieving first.
What I grieve, in all of this, is that I have officially lost whatever was left of the little boy who should never have had to experience something like this…the little boy I was supposed to protect.
Choosing to Grow copyright 2012 Meagan Frank
Meagan, My heart aches for you, Nate, Paul and the sadness it will bring to your day for all of you today. This is the hardest part of being a parent and a road all of us have traveled or will travel. My money is on Nate’s resilience, intelligence and talent – he’ll overcome his disappointment and go on to have a great year. Hugs to you.
Thanks Sue! He is a pretty amazing kid. The situation has brought out a fire in him, that I didn’t even know existed. Who knew?!? I so often pray for patience and wisdom, and then I’m frustrated when I don’t have it yet…oh well, eventually I’ll have both 🙂
This is an experience that we share with you, only a couple of days later. Yes, we, as well as many others on one of this year’s B1 teams, if the truth were revealed, have the wrong last name. We have learned that a small majority can rule the larger minority. And although we have experienced this once before, it doesn’t make the pain of this time any easier, only more familiar. All that I know, is that some day, when the world gets bigger for our children, and the name on the back of their jersey means much less than the person inside of the jersey, they will have the strength, determination, and independence necessary to tackle life on their own. Furthermore, they will be able to look at themselves in the mirror and know that the reflection they see looking back at them is of a person with integrity, honor, and character. This may not get them on the A-team of small town,
12 year old hockey, but it will get them on the A-team of life.
I know you know all too well the bitter sting of disappointment. You do know though we couldn’t possibly orchestrate this sort of learning opportunity without experiences like this. Grateful for friends to share the journey…
Thanks for writing this. We went through something like this with dance. Grief is a good word. I don’t know if coaches realizes how deep a “cut” can be. For our child there was no place for her to dance again.. no JV team. nothing…An insensitive coach from another team (who is my coworker) brushed it off as it is small piece of living. but it was grief