Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Heart Break

When my big girl was 5 years old she started playing T-Ball and all the girls were just the cutest things in hair ribbons you’d ever seen. She is of course our eldest child and therefore a pioneering child in the ways of benchmarking what happens next for her siblings. Another mom on our team had an older daughter and I remember asking her when the dynamics change; when does it go from hugs and cheers for both teams to having a real competitive edge. This mom paused for a moment, and then said “Under 10’s – that’s when you’ll see the shift.”
This past weekend marked the end of our first year in U10. I’ve thought about this mom’s answer frequently over the past few years in anticipation of “the shift.” This season was AMAZING. We went from 4th place to battling it out for 1st place – and almost became the youngest team in our division to take the championship.
My Big Girl is actually a very petite girl. She’s 8 now, but most of the girls are between 9 and 10. She’s small, but she’s a hard worker and has always loved sports and competing – especially all the wonderful girls she’s had an opportunity to befriend. She has really taken to pitching and even I have to admit I’m surprised by how well she’s done.
The scene: Late afternoon, blazing sun, Championship Game against a team only we’ve beaten in the league. We already beat them once during playoffs to get to the Championship and now we’re here to battle. A few innings in and we’re taking a pretty good beating. The girls are hot and tired and each run that comes in demoralizes them a little bit more. My Big Girls pitching and she’s giving it all she has. The best player in the league is at the plate, two outs and bases are loaded. My poor girl gives up a 3 run triple, before the inning ends. The look on her face is devastation.
She walks back to the dugout and I see her drop her head. I see a coach talking to her, and then I see she’s crying. I walk to her and she looks up at me and begins to explain how her hand is not feeling right and that she’s doing her best between the sobs. “Come on out,” I say. At first I just hug her before pep talking her and she buries her face between my neck and shoulder. Then I explain to her that this is just part of the game, that last week she struck this girl out, that as long as she does her best that’s all she can do…
She’s never gotten this upset over any game in her whole life, so finally I asked her “Tell me what you’re most upset about so we can work this out of you?” I wasn’t prepared for her answer when she said “Mary said I’m a BIG ASS and I really tried.”WHA-WHAT? All I could say is “She said what?” which then just made her say “ass” again to me. My head was racing. “You mean you’re not upset about Sarah’s hit off you?” “No, it’s that Mary said I am a BIG ASS and I let my team down.” In all my sporting life, I’ve never had a teammate say something so mean to me – and trust me, I’ve made mistakes worthy of the call, but that’s just not what teammates do. My heart literally broke for her and in recounting the whole incident it makes me tear up a bit.
Sports have always been such a positive outlet for all my kids. But, on this day sports taught her two lessons that I did not foresee at 8 1.) Good sportsmanship and gracious loss, and 2.) Mean Girls exist even on your own team. Mean girls are a lesson in life itself, but I thought I had a few more years before they came out on the playground. I never expected it on the sports field.
The coach (Big Girl’s Dad) ultimately dealt with the situation as diplomatically as he could and spoke to the other girl’s mother, but I am still taken aback by it all. Mind you, this is the same girl who earlier in the season told my daughter, "My mom says you're the worst pitcher on our team and I should be pitching instead of you." That surprised me, but crazy parents do exist and kids repeat things even when they shouldn't. We quickly and easily defused this one because the stats support a different story. I can't get past what kind of girl does that? My first instinct is to blame her mother, but who knows where she got it. Finding someone to blame doesn't change the impact the action made. I hope for all our sakes she shakes the mean girl 'tude before she joins our adult ranks.
“It changes when they play U10.” We almost made it a whole season without conceding this has any truth to it. A dad recently posted on his FB status that he wishes there was a book that explained how to cure a 10 year old girls broken heart…I sure wish I knew the answer myself. Please let me know if you do...

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