Equipment has been quickly placed in the trunk, the sharp sound of seatbelts being fastened echoes through your ears, deep sigh, a twist and the engine springs to life. The drive home from the arena can seem like one of the loneliest times for a young player, but it is the quiet solitude that the kids need in order to gather themselves.
As a parent, the choice of dialogue, its tone, and its intent must be carefully rationalized in order to have the greatest impact. More often than not, this is the best time to just simply say nothing. After suffering a loss or disappointing effort, young girls need this time to digest the result. Their hard working little minds are in fast forward, rewind and pause all at the same time.
From the stands you saw everything, mentally dissecting every pass, shot, bump and shift. But you did not see the game through their ever learning eyes. You did not skate with them, and no matter how you felt, you did not lose with them. Preseason, Regular Season, Post Season, and even practice, every girl at some time is going to feel like they let their teammates down, and you openly questioning their ‘game’ only deepens this feeling.
It is important, for that ride home, to let the individual player dictate the conversation, when a young girl wants to talk about it she will undoubtedly talk about it. And in almost every case the last thing they need to hear is how you feel or what you saw. They were there and they lived it in a highly invested way.
Using words like, disappointed, angry, upset or embarrassed only escalate an already sensitive situation. Parenting is never a simple thing, you want very much for your children to be successful, to be winners, to be standouts. Often times this may come across as frustration, but ultimately we are not our children and we cannot take credit for their successes, nor should we ever deflect or in any way suggest failure.
There is a very high likelihood that the young girls know where they have slipped up or where they should have done something different, but it is this awareness that keeps them playing, keeps them motivated, and keeps them invested. They want to work harder, work better, work smarter, and your job as parents is only to afford them that chance.
It is not to say you should not challenge them or help guide them, but rather it is choosing your timing, choosing your words, and choosing the appropriate situation. The dynamics surrounding an all-girl team are extraordinary; they push each other and believe very heavily in each other. Girls truly play as one and care very deeply if they feel they have not completed their share.
Sitting in a cold car traveling back home, young girls need a chance to recover mentally from the scars of battle, it is in this time frame that wounds are still fresh and egos are still very fragile. What happened may not be what they saw, and what you saw may not actually be what happened. Get in the car, turn on the radio and smile, you just shared a moment in time with your child; nothing should ever take away that proud feeling, win, lose or draw.