12th Man – Junior Edition

Last week’s Super Bowl was devastating for Seattle Seahawks fans. To watch your team almost win the game and instead throw an interception, with no time left on the clock, was hard to accept. The 12th Man had to go through stages of grief: denial (no! no! no! That did not just happen!), anger (why didn’t they rush? why???), and finally acceptance (it is what it is…there is nothing we can do about it, so we need to figure out how to move on). Easier said than done, right?

We watched the game with my oldest son and were in disbelief as the fate of the Seahawks changed. He was upset (we all were). He outwardly showed it, and my husband and I inwardly reflected on how best to address the situation — had I been alone, my reaction may have more closely followed my son’s. When we had time to collect our thoughts, we worked to console our son–while we may have thought we were trying to console him, we were really trying to help him (and us) make sense of what just occurred. “Sometimes these things don’t happen like you hope they will. We have to remember both teams wanted to win as badly as the other. I’m sure there was a good reason they called that play.” While our words were rational, it was hard to find comfort in them. We all were hurting.

I’m guessing, like most 12s around the country, many of us didn’t sleep well on Sunday night. Getting up on Monday, only to be reminded of what happened the night before, was hard. I was concerned about how my son would do at school. I figured most of the students would struggle with what happened in the game, and I was right, but not for long.

As I mentioned in my previous post, the 12th Man is a strong community. One of my son’s teachers (part of the 12s) had the kids talk about the game and how they felt about it at the beginning of the school day. The class joined the rest of the school in a weekly assembly later that morning and talked about the game. My son shared what he learned during this gathering. “Mom, it’s really simple. They tried a play and it didn’t work. That happens sometimes,” he said. “It’s only a game. It’s not anything worth getting upset about. It’s not like it really matters.” Wow, sage advice, I thought. Teaching your child about life, is a big part of the parenting experience. My son was reminding me that while I like to think I’m his teacher, I’m also the student too. My son was teaching me now.

My son’s acceptance of what happened, helped me accept it too. Seeing Russell Wilson, Seattle’s QB, and Pete Carroll, Seattle’s Head Coach, talk about the play, why they did it, and how they were dealing with it helped too. It was another example of the 12s helping each other get through something.

Seattle should have won the football game, but may have won a bigger game in the long run–how to get through life, during good times and bad, together.

How have you handled unexpected disappointment? What support helped you get through it?

A House Divided, a House United

Raise your hand if you are glad the election is over?

Both my arms would be raised if asked this question. There were a lot of stressful events to watch, read and hear about in recent weeks—the election getting to a fever pitch — what will happen if Romney wins, what will happen if Obama gets re-elected, followed by Hurricane Sandy and its aftermath, followed by the actual election and a country divided.  Doesn’t feel very good, right?

A reprieve from this negativity came in the form of reality came from my niece and son. My niece who was four in 2008 said that she would have voted for John McCain in our last election. When asked why, she simply replied, “Because his hair looks like grandpa’s!”  And she was right it did look like Grandpa’s.  My oldest son said to my husband and I one day in recent weeks, “I would vote for Romney!”  When asked why, he said, “Because I like his hair!”  Wow, I thought, hair has a lot more influence for a kid than I would have expected, and boy I’m glad the voting age is 18! 

Mo Rocco did a recent piece for CBS Sunday Morning where he walks a classroom of kids through the election, electoral process, and the complexity that can arise when the popular vote and electoral votes don’t match. The outcome of the mock election—what is better: colored pencils or markers—didn’t seem very fair to the children participating in the segment. The popular vote in the classroom had been for colored pencils, but markers won the electoral vote. The kids were divided. One side elated, the other felt like it was unfair. It would resonate with anyone who suffered through the 2000 election.

When the election was over and my anxiety succumbed to relief, I took a deep breath. I knew the outcome. It was over. Knowing I could now move on and not have to stress about “what-ifs” made me happy.  The last two years leading up to this felt like a rivalry football game–it felt like one team was winning handily, but being told constantly that the other team was closer to winning than you might think. And instead of “the game” lasting four quarters it felt like 100, maybe 1,000…basically it felt like an entirety, a roller coaster ride that I was glad had ended.

The innocence of a child’s thinking–like my niece and my son’s–can be easily lost in such decisive times. I wish it wasn’t that way. Elections are about winning and losing. It’s a competition played in the dirtiest of ways—half-truths, innuendo and exaggeration. Like the children in the mock election, some of us are elated with the results while others are heartbroken. While we may feel like a country divided I think we can all agree on this—there is much to still fix in our country, and the way we run political campaigns is very, very disappointing.

While I don’t have hope around how our politicians campaign and get elected to office, I do have hope for our country finding more common ground and working together to address our issues.

In my house we can all agree on that.