Bullies

     Every once in a while something pops up in my life that I seriously regret.  Some memory of something that makes me feel like I made a wrong choice.  A baaaad decision.  And I begin to think about the long range consequences.   And what kind of an effect that decision will have.

     I have been told that I think too much.

     The Prince has been playing soccer since he was five.  That’s 10 years now of soccer skills and listening to coaches and plying his team working skills with other kids his own age.  And he is very good at what he does.  He has superb skills.  He has leadership ability.  He knows how to be part of a team and how to carry his own.  He can make others listen to him most of the time.  The problem is, he doesn’t believe that about himself.  And that attitude all comes down to a bully situation.  I think. 

     When the Prince was going into third grade, we made the decision not to have him move from the recreational league to the travel league with most of his team.  The travel team league would mean year round practices and games, farther out of town games and tournaments and more intensive coaching.  We felt that the year round, intense sport situation would conflict with his academics at school.  We wanted him to still have fun with the game but  be able to become serious about reading and homework and projects.  It was a parental decision.

     While I don’t regret that decision, I seriously regret the place that it plunked my child.  From that moment on – with that club – team selection became a very political issue. There was such a large group of the Prince’s age that wanted to play, that there would always be two teams.  An ‘A’ team and a ‘B’ team.  A ‘white’ team and a ‘green’ team.   A ‘select’ team and – because they didn’t want the two teams playing against one another – a ‘rec’ team.  In spite of his skills and his heart, the Prince was generally relegated to the rec team after tryouts.  Because he missed a year of travel soccer back before third grade.  Political.  And that’s not a biased parent talking.  If I had my druthers, my kids would be in drama….or art…..or music.  Seriously.

     Unfortunately most of the boys who were in his class of peers in elementary school were on the ‘other’ team.  There was one that was particularly vocal about the Prince not being good enough for the ‘real’ team.   His teasing was picked up by others and we told the Prince to just laugh it off.  It wasn’t true, after all.  He knew that.  We knew that.  That was all that mattered.  besides, I knew their Moms.  Talking to them might make other things more difficult so it was better let sleeping dogs lie.  Right?

     Fifth grade.  Sixth grade.  Seventh grade.

     Tough times anyway.  Times made tougher by the ‘friends’ that continued to tease.  Continued to….torment….albeit in a ‘friendly’ way.    The circle became even bigger when he moved to middle school and there were more from the real team there.  Most of his team mates attended other middle school in the district.  We tried to talk him into making new friends…and he did…. but their interests were not soccer.  Which he is what he loved.  And besides, the others in that group had been his ‘friends’ since Kindergarten.  He liked them.

     During this time the Princess had been exploring other sports but was recruited by another club that was teaching her some excellent soccer skills.  We asked Prince to change soccer clubs so he would be working with hers but he chose to stay where he was.  He liked his coach and he liked his team mates.  Even if they weren’t ‘good enough’ for the real team.  Finally he decided to switch. For the training.

     Then the mantra with his circle became his need to switch to another club because he was too chicken to continue on the ‘not real’ team.  Again, we told him to just let it roll.  He would have to learn  how to deal with trash talk sometime, right?  He knew he was getting better training.   He knew his skills would be better.  That’s what mattered.

     In eighth grade – blessed be – another student from his school joined the outside soccer club.    So did his sister.  We parents swapped driving duties.  The kids became good friends. 

     One day, my new friend and driving buddy approached me about the teasing that was going on among the boys.  She asked me if I knew what was being said to our sons at school.  Every day.  Multiple times.  I nodded when she told me.  Nothing different than the Prince had been told before.  Nothing different than I had heard for four years. 

     Then she said something that put my son’s anguish into perspective.  Eight members of that ‘real’ team were in their circle of  friends.  If three of them (and it was usually more)  made a daily comment to our sons about ‘not being good enough’,  then they were being told three times – EVERY day – that they were not good soccer players.  Didn’t I wonder what kind of effect it  had on my son’s self esteem?

Whoa.

No.  I never really did.

Thinking I was giving my child the tools to deal with the outside world, I was forcing him to take constant hits….against his abilities, against his dedication to do well, against his talent, against his self esteem.  Multiple hits…on a daily basis.

I truly did my son wrong.

And he is still paying for it.

He  remains  friends with most of those boys from the bullying years.  That’s a good thing.  Some of them even play on his high school team.  Others have gravitated to other sports. 

I admire my son’s  ability to forgive,  his talent and his dedication to a sport that he truly loves.  I especially admire his courage.

I just wish he did.

Advertisements
Explore posts in the same categories: Uncategorized

Tags: , , ,

You can comment below, or link to this permanent URL from your own site.

One Comment on “Bullies”

  1. Marty Neighbors Says:

    As parents, we can not shield our kids, from all that the earth has to offer us in a negative way. These difficulties/ Learning situations, allowed him to encounter some unpleasantries, so he could define his path in life. Without the cold, we could never apprecaite the warmth. He will be a better man for it and his path will be well chosen! hang in there Mom, your doing all the right things!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: