We’re a soccer family. We’re also a Montessori family. Grace and courtesy are key tenets of the curriculum at our boys’ Colorado school. All kids are introduced to the concepts when they’re 3 and 4 years old and they continuously revisit them all the way through their last year of high school.
It’s one of the many reasons my husband Randy and I fell in love with this particular school all those years ago when we toured it and its adjoining farm.
Well, I think the world could use a little more grace and courtesy right now.
I look around and see and feel so much divisiveness, bitterness, and shaming.
Do things this way.
No this way, only idiots think that way.
On social media I see people congratulating one another for being mean to those who don’t agree with them in the comments.
That’s so good you raised your eyebrows and glared at the “others” in public! That’ll teach them! Wow.
What’s happening? If we took a collective breath and had the gift of awareness would we be proud of our behavior?
What about the golden rule?
We’re missing the pause. The pause is a gift any of us can tap into, but to be able to do so, we must slow down and get curious. The power of the pause? It can break us free from whatever spell we’re under.
A few weeks ago both our grade-school boys had a weekend soccer tournament in a tiny mountain town just outside of Vail. The Fall weather was brisk and crisp. The colors were amazing; oranges and reds speckled in all the Aspen yellow.
We rented a little cabin in the center of town which was a short 8-minute bike ride on back roads and through tunnels of trees straight to the soccer fields.
Everything was pinch-me perfect.
My younger son’s team made it to the championships. They faced one of the best teams in their elite club division.
The game started on the field and shortly thereafter a battle started brewing on the sidelines. The kids mostly played with respect and kindness, however, the parents ended up going to war.
On both sides, there was hostility and desperation for the right kids to succeed.
There were primal YESES in an “I’ll show you” tone from both sides each time the ball hit the back of the net. I saw parents high-five and give one another smug looks, as kids in the opposing uniforms, worn by 9 and 10-year-olds, hung their heads.
There was coaching from the sidelines. I heard grumbling at some of the calls. There’s a national referee shortage currently. And it’s not because they’re aren’t eager teenagers who love soccer and want to make a few dollars reffing, but because the parent’s sideline behavior is so atrocious, these older kids decide it’s not worth it.
The root issue?
We’re bottling up our personal frustrations of lives not intentionally, nor fully lived, and we’re looking for someone to blame.
I’ve spent years helping people with these emotions. Here are some relieve that frustration.
1. If you’re competitive and haven’t drained your own battery it’ll be hard not to express that from the sidelines. Start by taking better care of yourself. Get active and get your own heart rate up before you watch your kids exercise.
2. Use kindness as a filter, always. If a kid accidentally kicks the ball in their own goal, they’re probably not going to sleep well that night, and your exuberant jubilation will only add to their own disappointment.
3. Look for happiness in your own wins. Not sure what would make you happier in life? Create your own sacred pause and listen to the wisdom from within.
I’m okay with parents high-fiving. But the dancing up and down the field, the screaming behind the other parent’s section, and the idea that there is an enemy on the field do more harm than good. So how about…
Let’s be on the lookout (and clap) for ALL the good plays.
Let’s be grateful that in this time of COVID, there are still sports being played.
Let’s make sure to display grace and courtesy, both on and off the field.
Life will feel lighter once you do.
About the Author: Heather Aardema is an optimistic build-er-upper, momma of two boys, mountain biker, and fan of homemade and not-perfect. She’s the founder of School of Living Lighter—where she helps women tackle their clutter, un-complicate their lives, and lose weight for good—read more of her essays at SchoolofLivingLighter.com.