A Big Lesson For Tommy

I wish I had remembered to bring my camera to soccer yesterday.  It was the biggest and longest game Tommy's team had ever played.  There ended up being around 10 players on each side and it was about 30-40 minutes long. (usually the games max out at 20 mins at this age). Yes it was (as Rachel describes) like herding cats, but all the little ones did so well and you can see how much they have learned this season.

I was so proud of Tommy.  He played the entire time (instead of running up to me every 3 minutes to tell me he is tired, wants juice, wants a snack). The only time he came to the sideline was during water breaks and I only had to talk to him for stopping to hug another player (his buddy Zac) once.  

Right at the end of the game Tommy fell and skinned his knee a bit.  He came over to me for a snuggle and that was it he was done.  Still I was proud, he played so long and did so well.  As he was sitting there I heard him mutter something like "I can't do it" but didn't think too much of it as he started talking with another child and still seemed happy.

And then we got in the car...

All buckled in, blanket in hand and I saw a few silent tears fall.

"I can't do it Mommy" {my heart started to break}

I asked him what was wrong.  Apparently he is struggling.  As the youngest on the team (he just made the cutoff for age), and one of the few who isn't yet 5 he is not quite as big and not quite as fast as the other kids.  At home, with his friends, he is often the fastest, something that he is proud of.  At soccer it is different and he doesn't like it.

"I'm not the fastest Mommy, I didn't win" {my heart continued to break}

He was crushed that he couldn't keep up with some of the bigger kids, and that he didn't score a goal.

On the ride home we had a long conversation.  We talked about soccer in general {it isn't a high scoring game} and I told him that Daddy will watch some soccer games on TV with him at home, so he could learn more.

Then we talked about him.  I told Tommy how incredibly proud I was of him that day, and how well he did.  We talked about how it is ok that he is smaller, that he's not the fastest.  We talked about winning and losing, and having fun.  We talked about practicing at home, with Daddy and Jack.  Learning how to handle the ball, building up his strength and speed.

But most importantly we talked about doing the best he could and being proud of himself for going out there every week, even when he's not the fastest.  We talked about how important it was to be there every week for his team, to try hard and have a good time.

This week I think Tommy learned a tough lesson at soccer.

This week was the exact reason I wanted Tommy in a team sport, as it is an important, albeit, hard lesson to learn.


  1. What a tough lesson for a youngster to learn! That's gotta be hard, seeing him struggle and not feel good enough. But it sounds like you had a great conversation and said all the right Mommy things!

  2. So glad you had a good talk with him!

    I was really small for my age - always the littlest one on the team. But sometimes that really pays off. Joey Cora from the Mariners, Gary Payton from the Sonics, Rachel from the Mini-Sluggers (whoops, that was me :)

    Sometimes, when you have to try harder, it makes you stronger.

    (Itty Bit is working on it too - it's a 4-6 year old team and he's barely 4, with a bunch of fast almost-7 year olds).

    And yes! Please bring your camera! :) I would be so grateful to know I'm not the only mom seeing the herding cats! :)

  3. We have started to realize that we shot ourselves in the foot by letting Nate win when we play things. Now we are purposely not letting him win and teaching him about sportsmanship. It is a hard lesson to learn, but a good one none the less!

  4. Aww, poor fella. But you handled it so well! We face this often with our oldest. We are small parents, and so he has the curse of being so small too. In his life, I think we'll be revisiting this often. Well done, and hugs to him.

  5. I just saw this... ya know we've talked about soccer. My April is still in the sport. She started at Tommy's age... and now she's on a competition team... at age 12. She was never the fastest... never the best... and yes, she had some sad times about that. But she is a star. She knows she is a star. Why? Because she is all about sticking to it... she loves the sport and she is persistant. AND after a year or so playing... she still would sometimes come home bothered that the team lost, or that she didn't get a goal (she used to be a defender... never near the box), etc. DH and April talked and decided she needed to come up with something that was her speciality. And she did... she can kick a goal with either foot. That is rare at a young age... the other team isn't expecting it... and POP... in it goes...

    Tommy is learning a good lesson... we all can't be good and the best at everything... it's important to be part of a team and support. But you and your hubby already know this... great parents you are.


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