I did it again.
Just like so many times before.
It’s like something just comes over me and I can’t help myself.
No matter how I try.
Let me set the stage for this latest repeat of a certain behavior of mine.
Gorgeous Austin, Texas, spring day, given that spring seems to arrive here while the rest of the country has a season called winter.
(Don’t be jealous…summer arrives in March and stays until the next January or February…)
Grass as green as…grass.
Sky the kind of luminous blue that seems almost faux, except it’s the exact color that an azure sky should be.
We’re sitting on the sidelines, seven and eight-year-old kids running up and down the soccer field. We’re deep into the third quarter of a virtually scoreless game, although I can’t be authoritative about this. I tend to lose track of the action in a kids’ soccer game, given all the running up and down and orange eating. The kids are starting to show some fatigue, their range of crew cuts and early rock star coiffures beginning to drip with sweat, their efforts perfuming their soccer socks and shin guards with an aroma that will be impervious to all the laundry technology known to mankind.
And then it happens.
Some subtle violation of some subtle soccer rule.
The teenage ref has a chance to use his fancy whistle and makes the call. The play is reset.
And one of the coaches starts hollering.
At the teenage ref.
And then one of the moms starts in.
Yelling. Tossing insults. Badgering.
Demanding proof that protocol has been followed, then rejecting it when proof is provided.
More hollering, comments tossed to the turf of the field like sharpened and dangerous confetti.
That’s when it happens.
I try to hold it back, dampen it down, distract myself into another response.
But here it comes.
The laugh I can’t hold back.
It just seems the height of comedy to me, this adult Defcon 1 response over a soccer game for a bunch of second and third graders. This harassment of a teenager just out trying to oversee a neighborhood game. It’s so ridiculous, it almost seems like a Candid Camera kind of moment.
It makes me laugh.
But it’s not a funny business, really. In doing research for my upcoming book, Raising an Original, it was stunning to learn how much parent violence had increased within the arena of kids’ sporting and extracurricular activities. Everything from verbal abuse to full-out brawls is being reported across the country, with increasing levels of incidents and severity.
What the what?
Are we that desperate as a nation of supposed grown-ups that we need the validation of how our kid’s soccer team performs to make us feel okay about ourselves?
But before I preach too much from my giggly high horse, there’s a reframe that comes fast on my heels.
Which is this.
How often do I get my Abba Father tickled with my responses to what I perceive as unfair play and calls on the field of my adulting game? The times I fret and holler foul and harangue? The over-response to the incorrect online order, the pouting in a work situation, the passive aggressive commentary made from a safe distance. Does my Abba Father just shake His head, chuckle a bit, and wait for me to raise my eyes and see that so much of my worry and wrangle is over something as inconsequential as the outcome of a random Saturday’s soccer game?
So maybe I’ll just keep my laugh intact when the sideline scuffles start this soccer season. Maybe I’ll just enjoy the giggle. And in the doing, remind myself that there is much to laugh about when it comes to what we get so worked up about, my own life included.
Laugh and learn, I will.
Laugh and learn.