Today our son played in his first lacrosse tournament of the year – with a new lacrosse head, new cleats for his size 12 feet, and minimal playing time with each, he was full of nerves and hopes.
Heading to lunch after the first two games, he was in good spirits. He felt he had played well, and our team won both games with wide margins.
And then we came to game three and the wheels came off the lacrosse bus – within minutes of him taking his position as defender the opposing team scored. Not just once but three times in rapid succession.
Watching from the sidelines, his change in demeanor was clear. After the game his mood had also changed – from nervous to disappointed. From hopeful to demoralized.
Reflecting on the game, he felt like he let down the team. He also believed the coaches and other kids thought the same thing, and now he had a reputation.
I couldn’t tell him that he was wrong – he and his teammates were outplayed by the opposing team. But I could argue that it was a failure. It was a tough game, but his team fought back to bring it within one point.
But more important were the lessons learned during the game. Lessons about competition and finding out where he has room to improve; lessons about focusing on the successes and the failures; lessons about perseverance when the heat is on; lessons about teamwork and support when the score is down, lessons about trying his best and recovering from failures.
Game three wasn’t fun, but it was the best one of the day.