Of football matches and heartbreaks

Of football matches and heartbreaks

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Last week, one wet morning I found myself driving down a pathetically potholed road to the twin’s school to watch a foot ball match. All I know about football can pretty much be summed up as follows:
– World Cup matches happen at ungodly hours
– Players wear knee-length socks
– Said players are violent and often get hurt
– It is dangerous to referee a football match

The only players I know of are:

– Messi (not Messy, I just discovered)
– Ronaldo
– Maradona
– And Black Pearl, Pele (that one I learnt that from an Amol Palekar film)
However, with the son all over me to come watch ‘his’ match I had little choice. I wasn’t even sure he was on the team – he was a substitute. Does that count? I had no idea. For him it certainly did. It was a big enough deal for him to strut about for days bragging about how ‘cool’ his team was.
On D-day there I was – on the off chance that he would get to play AND manage to strike a goal AND win the game for his team! Yet I was there because since the twins came along I’ve learnt to believe in miracles.
It wasn’t too bad. The light drizzle was pleasant and I got to see first-hand how H managed to come home each day with mud-caked shoes and grubby clothes. The match turned out to be a draw with none of the sides scoring. The teams then took on penalty shootouts. Wonder of wonders H was called upon to play and to take a turn at the penalty kick (the last final deciding one at that) as the teams stood equally matched. He put all his might into that one kick. 

The ball sailed across, hit the goal post and bounced right away – far far from where it was supposed to go. Even as the claps sounded for the winning team I watched his face crumple. I watched him walk away dejected, shoulders down. I saw the tears he was trying hard to hold (This son of mine cries only too easily). I felt what he felt – that he’d let his team down. I wanted to run to him, to give him a hug. But I stayed put.

Finally the teams shook hands and it was all over and I could go to him. “We lost, mama,” he said in a small voice. I didn’t say ‘It’s okay,” because clearly it wasn’t. So I said the next thing I could think of, “You’ll do it next time.” And with that I had to be satisfied.
I was glad I went.
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29 Replies to “Of football matches and heartbreaks”

  1. Oh I thought that I had commented on this one. Clearly I hadn't 🙁 But I must say that I loved the way you handled it. I would have totally said 'It's Okay' This gave me pause. I know what to say next time. 🙂 Thank you!

  2. Watching disappointment on a kid's face is always heart-wrenching. The good thing is that they recover so quickly and get engrossed in something else. That bit about next time was brilliant. It'll give him something to look forward to and will make sure he doesn't give up on the game because of this one time.

    1. That's absolutely true Chicky. No matter how heartbreaking their reaction, they always recover faster than the grown ups. In fact he came home a few days later brandishing his 'runners up' certificate and feeling pretty proud of it too.

  3. Oh yes Always a NEXT time .. and to be frank I do think Losing teaching us more in life than winning always .. The truth of Winning if far more for the one who has just lost ..

    and as such there are more who lose then the ones who win.. at least thats how i think and Losing is not something one needs to be ashamed of .. in a race only one winner ..

    and you being there for the little champ AWESOMEeeeeeeeeeeee 🙂


  4. I can well imagine how it must feel being in your shoes. My older son is highly competitive about stuff like Spelling Bees etc and I saw a similar thing happen to him when he fumbled on a relatively easy word! I too just wanted to run up and give him a hug but I managed to hold back! A nice slushy treat later on definitely helped! 🙂
    "Black Pearl" during the job interview in Golmaal!!! Won't forget that!!

    1. Junk those notes Sid, they never work. Chances are you'll forget all you've planned when/if something like this happens. I don't think I 'did' anything anyway.

  5. Aah! Both husband and son are football fanatics and son has some favourite clubs too. In fact, he bought a Chelsea FC Flag and has been pestering me to pin it on a wall in his room. So, all I know about football is through the talks of the boys at home and the endless matches that they keep watching on TV. AG plays football at school but I believe he is a substitute too! You did great, I think saying that and not running to hug the hurt away takes a strong will and great parenting skills!

    1. About the not 'running to hug' Shilpa, that was strictly because H would have never forgiven me if I hugged him in front of his friends that too at school!! That's not to say I didn't want to.

  6. I generally end up saying, "Chin up, Tiger. You win some; you lose some." My sons love football too. I am not so tuned into Barclay's League etc. But I still avidly watch Football World Cup. Partly the motivation is the handsome hunks with delicious bodies. 😉

  7. Its so hard to do what you did Tulika, but also so correct. It comes instinctively to moms to comfort their children when do, we want to make everything alright for them, but somethings they need to learn themselves. I love football, so hopefully wen S grows up I plan to teach him all about the football players. 😀

  8. Aww Tulika. To be very honest, I would have instinctively said, 'It's okay'. So glad you didn't. And I stand by your side when it comes to knowledge of football. In fact, maybe I know even lesser. As for H, I think he is getting the best of parenting from you. Carry on, my dear. You're doing a fine job of it.

    1. The Okay response is what comes naturally to me too but somehow that day I felt I would be belittling his emotion if I said that. As always your comment makes me believe in myself.

  9. It's so hard to see your children disappointed over these kind of things. As adults we know it's a natural part of life, but we want to make it better. I like your response, because it was hopeful than saying, "It's Ok." Blessings!

    1. You're right. What seems like a small inconsequential thing for us means the world to the kids. And facing a set back is definitely not okay for them.

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