|By Miika Silfverberg (MiikaS) |
from Vantaa, Finland (Flickr)
via Wikimedia Commons
Week: March 29 - April 1, 1999
Topic: I cried
I went to help my dad coach my little brother's soccer practice on Tuesday. I was only there for the last fifteen minutes, but those fifteen minutes were enough to make me cry.
Practice was over, and I was playing a 3-on-3 pick-up game with some of the boys. One little boy wasn't very good, and so the other kids would never pass him the ball. Then, as he was dribbling, his teammate jumped in front of him and stole the ball from him.
I called out, "Don't steal the ball from your own team," and then watched as the ball-stealer messed up a pass, claiming he was sending it to the not-so-good boy. I walked over to the offending child and said quietly, "I know you're better than him, that he's not very good yet, but you can't just--"
"That was a pass to him!" he protested.
"That may be, but you also stole the ball from him. That's not right. So don't do it again. Be nice."
I hadn't even begun to say what I needed to say. I wanted to tell him, "All that little boy wants is to be like you, to be good like you, to be liked by you. You're naturally good at sports; he's not. What does it hurt to just ignore his shortcomings and let him play with you? Just treat him like he's a person, just pass him the ball, for kindness' sake. No one will ever know you were nice to this poor kid, and if you just treat him like an equal, I promise I'll never tell."
But I couldn't say that, and even if I had, he wouldn't have listened. And so instead, I walked down the field, turned my back toward the boys so they couldn't see, and started to cry. I cried for the uncoordinated, mistreated little boy; for everything he wanted to be, but couldn't; for all his being left out and mocked; for all the senseless cruelty shown him; for all his efforts in vain to fit in; for all his pain.
But really, I cried for myself and my similar hardships and pain. I cried for every time I'd been picked last at youth soccer practices and in gym class, for every time I'd struck out playing whiffle ball, for every time I missed the volleyball, for every mile I'd run too slowly, for the B I made in 8th grade P.E., for every time everyone else had seen my failures and laughed. I cried because these children were barely 12 and yet they were already so cruel. I cried because when I was 12, they would have been cruel to me too.
And so I stood there on the soccer field and sobbed--silent and ashamed--for that boy and for myself, for everyone who'd ever wanted to be something but never was.