India has rocked my reality for sure. Things I just assumed were true about the world simply are not. Things that were once complicated have suddenly uncomplicated themselves and things that were easy schmeasy – well now, not so much.
We are rolling with the punches and really, truly have nothing to complain about. But some adjustments are trickier than others.
Take soccer (here it is called football) for instance. My kids love soccer – they each began playing when they were four and have not been off the pitch since – that is until we got here. We missed the sign ups when we arrived last year, so my kids have essentially been without soccer for a year. Yes, I know that is not the end of the world – but they love it, we love it, we all missed it.
And soccer sign ups here are not easy – if you are not coaching or sponsoring a team, good luck to you getting a spot. Hubby agreed to coach – he’s done it for years – and that guaranteed our kids could play. Obstacle number one – overcome.
For Bear and Angel it’s been a pretty smooth transition. But for Flower – enter obstacle number two. She is the only girl on her team.
Luckily she has a lot of soccer experience, she’s pretty fast, and she works hard. However, she still is on a team with all boys.
We did not make a big deal of it. You want to play, this is your option. She was and is fine with it. Not what she would prefer – but this has been a year sprinkled with “not what we would prefer” so we are getting the hang of adapting.
At her first practice the coach ran some speed drills. She beat a few of the boys and got a lot of eeeewws and aaaahhs. A little unnecessary because really, at this age, girls are often faster than boys. No one has really hit puberty yet and, like I said, she tries hard. Nonetheless, they were surprised and very verbal about it. They chided the boys she beat. Really, enough already. Anyway, she rolled with it. And after practice we laughed that she sure surprised them. They coach was very supportive – he complimented her on her speed and was happy to have her on the team.
Next was the game. Not so little number 14 on the other team decided to push hard on Flower. Push he did. He was certainly more aggressive than necessary but not really over the line – pushing right up to the line – but not really going over it. Once again, she rolled with it. She didn’t slow down and maneuvered around him fine. She was often the only girl on the field. Undaunted, she played hard.
Then there was a throw in. She was standing on the field in front of the opposing coach and he yelled to his players, “mark your player, someone mark Blondie.”
Mark Blondie? augh. Who let Archie Bunker coach soccer in India?
The surprising thing about this comment is that the expat community here seems to be full of such global thinkers. They have been exposed to the world and embrace the differences that exist in it. They work hard to create advantages for the disadvantaged. It is filled with women who are literally changing the world and husbands who stay home with the kids. Of course, this one comment does not justify a condemnation of all things expat. But it surprised me because it sounded so back asswards.
Unfortunately – or maybe fortunately – I did not hear him say it. Flower told me about it after the game. This is my girl that hardly releases any details – seriously, I think she is in spy training. But this had an impact on her. She told me that he looked and her and realized that she heard it. She told me she smiled and he smiled. Busted. Obstacle number 2 overcome.
Number 14 came at her pretty hard again and ended up on his butt. He kept his distance after that. She didn’t push him down. She was not retaliating. She was simply defending her position. Obstacle number 3 overcome.
So when Flower told us about this Mark Blondie nonsense we laughed with her. Once again we complimented her on earning her spot on the field. We told her the other coach clearly saw her as a threat and wanted to make sure she was covered.
But privately, we wondered “what the heck”? It is hard enough for a girl here to get on the field without any nonsense. There are many girls who have chosen not to play. They are simply intimidated by the thought of being on the field with boys. Throw in the comments and the eeewing and aaahhing and it’s really tough.
And it is a shame. Some of these girls are remarkable players. They outwit and outlast most of the boys on the field. They score, they defend, they contribute in big ways to the success of the team. And they put up with some BS along the way.
So in true me fashion, I shared the story with a few moms. Most of them were outraged. I should lodge a complaint. I should have the coach reprimanded. Maybe I should burn my bra soccer cleats.
But we have chosen to treat this as not really a big deal. The bottom line really is that we will all face obstacles and if we let mere words stop us or slow us down, we lose before we even begin. We want the lesson to be not to let other people get in your way. Don’t get worked about about stupid comments. Continue to do your best. Besides, I have been seriously underestimated before and it can work to your advantage!
BTW, Flower was chosen as team captain for the last game and she continues to hold her own. She’s doing pretty well – even for a girl. 😉