When in doubt, be nice

September 10, 2010|By LISA PREJEAN

An interesting thing happened on the soccer field sidelines the other day.

Not that it's unusual for interesting things to happen when quintessential soccer moms get together, but, well, this was not a typical incident.

In fact, I've never had anything like this happen before.

The game was about to start. The weather was perfect. The sun was shining, a cool breeze was blowing and our boys were ready to play their best.

What more do you need after a hard day's work?

My mom sat to my left; families from our team surrounded us.

As the referees met with the captains in the center of the field, I felt a stirring to my right.

I glanced over and saw a man I didn't know setting up his chair right next to mine. The arms of our chairs were practically touching.


"Oh, let me move down and give you guys more room," I said, thinking he was with the family to our right.

"That's not necessary. It's just me," he said with a smile.

At this point, I wasn't sure what to do, so I moved my chair closer to my mom's.

I wondered if my husband - the coach - could see what was happening, but he was too busy getting ready for the start of the game to notice that anything was amiss across the field.

So, I did what any other soccer mom would do. I smiled, shrugged my shoulders and prepared to watch the game.

After the first play or two, something became quite evident.

My sideline buddy had made his way into enemy camp.

Our first clue was his under-the-breath "C'mon! If that wasn't offsides, I don't know what is."

Part of me wanted to turn to him and innocently say, "That's OK. It takes most of us a few seasons to understand an offsides call or lack thereof."

Then I thought, "What advice would I give to my kids or my students if they were in this position?"

That's simple: Be nice.

I looked down the sidelines and noticed that there was plenty of room among families from the opposing team.

So I thought that this guy must be a soccer rookie. Not so.

His next comment blew that theory.

I asked if he had a son on the opposing team.

"Yeah, and he has played soccer all his life. Could do just as well as the guys on the field, even better if he had a chance to play."

Played soccer all his life, eh? Hmmm. Then this was no rookie soccer dad.

"So, is your son a freshman?" I asked.

He nodded his head and motioned to the bench.

I empathized. Every parent wants to see their child play.

"Sometimes the freshmen have to sit the bench," I said. "They can learn a lot from observing the older players. All players have to pay their dues."

His expression told me that theory shouldn't apply to his son.

I turned my attention back to the game and to cheering for the boys.

My new-found acquaintance seemed surprised to hear me complimenting players from both sides. Sometimes I get caught up in the game, watching the beauty of the movement, the intricate footwork and the high rate of speed. I forget that I'm not supposed to cheer for the opposing team. At times, though, I can't help myself. The play is so good that the players should be commended.

Even if they are on the opposing team.

It definitely made things easier with my sideline buddy. He certainly made himself right at home.

Lisa Tedrick Prejean writes a weekly column for The Herald-Mail's Family page. Send e-mail to her at .

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