A member of one of my e-courses posted this comment in our Facebook group, looking for advice from the other members. I asked her if I could answer her question here on the blog as I think she is certainly not the only parent to find herself in this situation.
Here is her dilemma, published with permission:
HELP! It was my son’s last soccer practice yesterday and one of the lovely kids said out loud in front of all the players, “you’re the weakest player on the team.” When my son questioned him the kid said “No, I said you were the best player on the team LOL.”
My son replied back with, “I heard what you said and that wasn’t it.”
This all happened out in the middle of the field out of the ear shot of people in the stands. GREAT! Totally broke his (and my) heart. He was on the brink of tears when he told me in the car. I am under no spell that he is the best player out there but this is his very first year (hopefully not last because of that little sh*t head) of playing and boy that stings for him. He doesn’t even want to go to his last game, but he will because that’s not how it works. He will be the weakest if he doesn’t show up.
Any advice on how to handle it would be great. I told him as long as he’s doing his best it doesn’t matter what anyone else says.
This is one of those scenarios you don’t envision or anticipate when you are pregnant with your first child.
The somebody-is-being-an-asshole-to-my-kid scenario.
But it is going to happen.
Most likely multiple times.
And while witnessing some kid be a dick to your son or daughter is one of the hardest things you will do as a parent, well, learning this life skill of dealing with the dickhead is pretty much a prerequisite for navigating adulthood.
Because there will be a lifetime supply of dickheads for all of us.
While I completely understand the instinctive response to want to tear the head and limbs off of any human being who is mean to your child, that won’t help your son or daughter when the next dickhead steps onto the scene.
There are only so many dickheads a mom can dismember.
So here are my two cents.
I 100% agree that if your son doesn’t go to his final game it is Good Guys – 0, Bad Guys – 1.
So here is what I would do.
First, tell your son you are proud of him for standing up for himself. That is a skill that will take him much farther through life than being able to score a bazillion goals in a soccer game.
Next, I have been told many times by different adults that my kids are well-behaved and respectful and welcome at their house any time.
And for the most part, they are. But even good kids do some pretty douchey things. I have witnessed all of my children being Grade A Douchebags to other children.
ALL of them.
So next, I would say this. But without the swears.
All kids can be assholes.
Even the good ones.
At one point or another, all of our kids do or say something mean to another kid.
ALL OF THEM.
So it is possible that this kid on the soccer field is not a complete and total jerk. It is possible that he was having one of those moments that all of our kids have at one point or another.
This would be the time that I would sit all your kids down and talk to them about how it feels to be on the receiving end of this kind of douchey behavior.
I would remind them to be mindful of their words and actions because they can be hurtful.
And I would ask your son how he would have felt if another player on the team had come to his defense or had confronted the kid who was being an arsehole to your kid.
And I would encourage my children to be that kid.
The one who stands up for himself, and the one who stands up for other kids.
The third thing I would do would be to tell your son that every player on the team brings something to the table.
I was never the superstar on my high school or college swim team.
I never held any school records. But I was captain of both teams.
You can be a leader without being the best player.
The weakest player on the team isn’t the kid with the worst skills.
The weakest player on the team is the biggest asshole on the team.
Once you have told your son and your other children all of this, then there is only one thing left for you to do.
Pop some popcorn, sit down as a family, and watch the movie Rudy.
Rudy is the hero your son needs.
And one day, like Rudy, your son will be the hero for someone else.