Ooooohhhh, my life is so exciting right now I could write about so many different things...but what to choose, what to choose...hmmm. When I was little my dad traveled all over the world and brought me back a doll from each destination. My favorite was an alpaca and farmer from Columbia. I kept all of my dolls in a case that my grandfather made. My parents have downsized their home and given me the doll case for my girls. But neither of them collect dolls so I've kept the case in the dining room for the time being trying to figure out what to do with it.
While taking a break during the reorganization of my home (some of you may have fallen victim to the albums I've come across as they are too fun to not share on Facebook), we went out to watch the kids' final soccer games. As I approached the field, I saw HIM. You know who he is. The overly angry soccer dad who showed up to the field pissed off before the game even started. We had a run-in with one of these last year. Another mom, who happened to be a friend, had a daughter on the field who was painfully shy about playing and would hardly participate. Each week she would get on the field and play a little more. The parents stood on the sidelines and cheered equally for everyone. Except one dad. He threw his hands up in the air and stomped around. He couldn't understand why the seven year old wasn't aggressively attacking the ball. "Wake up number 7!" he shouted. My friend cringed. "What are you doing out there? Sleeping?" he shouted again. My friend looked at me about to cry. I turned to look at Chris, and he promptly stepped into action, "Hey man, lighten up. It's about progress, not perfection." Perfectly put, I thought. At least it worked and the man finally shut up.
This dad was no different. The kids were a year older. The field was a little bigger. The goal post a little higher. The season was a little more challenging. Lilly begged her coach to be goal keeper. Defense was a little weak, so she quickly became a star as she blocked several goals her very first game. She had found her position. I told her how that position always scared me and I admired her courage for volunteering to try it. She was hooked and by the end of the season was even diving for the corner blocks. But she doesn't always block the ball. Sometimes they get by her. I am so proud that she never lets those misses get her down. I test her a little and ask her how she feels. Then I tell her, if she didn't let some go by once in awhile how was she ever going to know what she needed to do to improve, so thank goodness it happens. Because of this, she works extra hard. And she takes her position as keeper very seriously. She has set a standard of excellence for herself. And no matter what happened this season, she knows she worked as hard as she could and therefore met her standards.
I felt really sorry for the kid of the dad from hell. He threw his hat down on the field (mind you, these are 8 year olds and it's a YMCA team), he sighed out loud, yelled at his kid, yelled at our kids, yelled at the coach. Questioned the coach. By the looks of it (and the horrible coaching he was giving) I am guessing he has never actually played the game himself. But he sure knew how to bark orders and insults. I don't know what he was expecting exactly...that they were going to win every game? That they step onto the field knowing all there is to know about the game? That they are super athletes fully developed? On numerous occassions I turned my head to shout something at him, and quickly had my mouth covered by caring family members who didn't want to see me thrown off the field. Eventually, I just moved to a different side of the field.
The whole experience made me glad I deleted the word "expectation" from my vocabulary. When I place an "expectation" on someone...they will never meet it. If they are lucky and they happen to meet one expectation, they are sure to fail somewhere else. It's sad to see someone who has been battered by years of failing to meet expectations. Seems like eventually they just stop trying. It also seems controlling to me. I "expect" you to be this way, do this thing, be this person...who am "I"? God? The Dalai Llama? Batman? I'm one person. A nobody.
I decided that instead of setting expectations on people in my life (that is just way too much work to keep up with all the people who wrong me or are on the "in danger of wronging me" list), I am now only setting standards. When I set expectations I am controlling someone else. When I set standards, I am only responsible for me! Whew! What a relief! That is a huge weight of responsibility off my shoulders! In turn, I try to teach my children how to set standards for themselves. And when they meet those standards, they seem to be naturally driven to exceed them for some reason. 100% of the time when they exceed their own standards they are already so far above what my expectations would have been, that I don't even bother with those annoying details anymore. I love when my children come bouncing off the field, win or lose, and just high five and kick the ball around talking about how much fun they had. And I never seem to have trouble getting them out the door for practice.
And the poor guy who spent an hour belittling a bunch of kids who were much smaller than him? His kid came dragging off the field, compaining about playing, complaining about losing, complaining about running...complaining about everything. I guess that is what happens when you don't meet someone's expectations. Makes me think what a sad life this poor dad had, that he probably failed to meet someone's expectations too.
The girls came home with a couple of soccer trophies to wrap up the season. And it dawned on me that I knew just the perfect place to display them. I look at the trophy case in my dining room now thinking, wow, I have lots of active kids in this house (Chris included), and we piled all our awards in the case...now instead of dolls, the case has soccer trophies, pageant trophies, a tiara, a crown, swimming ribbons, running medals, and awards from work. It has become the family trophy case I never expected!