My eight-year-old daughter plays soccer on a rec team. She’s a great defender, rabidly and tenaciously going after the ball anytime it gets past mid-field. She’s stopped countless goals this season. But one of the players on the opposing team apparently didn’t think she had the right to be there. This player told my daughter, “You’re too small to play soccer.”
My nearly nine-year-old is the shortest in her class. We could (but don’t) call her Strawberry Shortcake for more than just her red hair. She is not a complete wisp, but she probably won’t break 50 pounds until she’s closer to ten. Her size doesn’t determine her effectiveness on the field, however.
It’s a good thing I wasn’t at this particular game. I might have gone all Mama Bear on the girl. GRRRR. My hubby told me about it afterwards. So I asked my daughter, “What did you do when that girl told you that you were too small to play soccer?” She responded, “Well, I just took the ball away from her, dribbled it down the field, and yelled behind me, ‘You still think I’m too small?'” I’m glad she has enough confidence to not let comments bother her. At the same age, I probably would have been sobbing into my shin guards. I wouldn’t have the same reaction now, but I’ve been thinking a lot lately about “too”.
Do you ever let “too” judgments creep into your head? Even with your own kids? I’m guilty of this at times. The same eight-year-old brought home a paper about an art contest. She was so excited to enter and try to win the prize. Instead of enthusiastically responding I said, “There are too many others entering. You’re probably not going to win.” Her beautiful face fell faster than my checking balance in December, and I tried to retract my statement by saying, “But you should totally go for it anyway.” Luckily, my daughter still wanted to do it, even with my wet blanket thrown over her. Did she win? No, but she practiced some skills, had fun planning, designing, and executing her entry and ultimately learned that she didn’t have to win to enjoy the experience. My “too” could have robbed her of that opportunity.
The most damaging “too”s are the ones we tell ourselves. Have you ever said you’re “too old”, “too fat”, “too ugly”, “too sensitive”, “too lazy”, “too stupid”, “too worthless”? Probably, but not in those exact words maybe. Adults usually make the “too” a little more positive and turn it into an “enough” statement: I’m not smart enough, I’m not good enough, I’m not pretty enough, I’m not strong enough, I’m not organized enough, I’m not energetic enough, etc. But even though these statements have a more positive spin, they mean the same thing.
So what is the “too” or “enough” statement that is holding you back or holding your kids back? Does it come from you or does it come from others? Every time I think about telling myself or my kids that we are “too” anything, I’m going to think about my fiery redhead soccer player, kicking that ball down the field, not “too” anything to play. And I’ll kick that “too” down the field as hard as she would.