It’s a fine line between being at ease and feeling under stress. Yesterday, I decided to do something that I thought would put me at ease: I went to watch my first-born daughter at her soccer match. I promised to be there to see the first half, but was caught doing some chores at home and cut things a bit fine. I have never been late for one of her games unless I was playing, coaching or refereeing a soccer match myself. I missed the first few minutes but got there to see my kid standing on the side, with her arms folded, and a big smile on her face. She was dressed in black-very serious. Her team was dressed in green. You see, my kid is the head coach of a girls’ under-12 team. I had watched her coach before, but somehow this was different. She had taken several steps up the ladder in qualifications and also now had another team under her wing (under-16 girls). She seemed to have the girls’ respect and from what I could hear from parents’ comments, she had their support, too.
As the game went on, I realised that (for my sins) I was living the match as a coach, with her. I had never trained the team, and only seen some of them once in an indoor game, and the preceding Friday at practice. But, I could sense what my daughter had been working to do with the girls, and as things went along I felt every missed shot, every good save, every move that sent the defence on a chase, every goal conceded, and then every goal scored. It was really getting to be quite unbearable. My child was not making a single bad move, as I could not criticise her team selection and substitution. She never fell or needed assistance with her stamina. I realised that I cared so much about how her team was doing. When she made her half-time talk, I tried to offer her a little advice and she gave me the sign that this was not the time. I walked back to my spot. I really respected her calm assurance and the control she showed over her team. I loved it when she took out one of her players after a defensive mix-up, gave the girls some advice, and put her back in quickly. That was also noted by one parent: “I like that.”
I had to leave before the end, and her team was losing. I did not want her to feel that I was abandoning her and her team, so asked a parent to explain that I needed to go. But, then, I stayed a little longer.
When I got into my car, I could feel how clammy my hands were. I took a moment to have a deep breath and then drove off. It took me about an hour to get back at ease: I diverted myself over a grill. I’m not sure if I want to go through that every week. I had thought that I would feel this way seeing my six-year old start off playing soccer in coming days, but not this way about her 20-something sister coaching. Who wants to be a parent?
Later, I was watching NFL games and saw the Redskins play the Cowboys. Each head coach had a son as a coordinating assistant. It was a notable fact that not only was the mantle being worn with aplomb but the positions held were merited. I remembered how my daughter had tried to help me a little to coach when she was one of the team I coached. It was clear that she had good sense of what to do and what to look for and I am so glad that she pursued her own path, in her own time.
She tells me that she has two and a half great jobs: she works for a software start-up company and she coaches two teams. She loves what she does and the jobs all pay–the coaching is not great money, but it covers major expenses.
I hope that she can really get her team to work well and that she continues to show the kind of poise I saw yesterday.