“I want a do-over! This is the worst Mother’s Day ever!” While I cannot remember the exact year, those words were spoken to me by My Wife on the second Sunday in May. Let me explain.
We were living in Vermont, and while the calendar said it was May, it felt less like May and more like March. And it was raining. And we were outdoors watching our oldest son Patrick play soccer. It was youth soccer, a local recreational team.
Side note: anyone with any scheduling power at all, ever, make it a point to give everyone Mother’s Day off. There’s no need to play recreation anything on Mother’s Day. The world will continue to rotate rapidly on its axis, trust me.
So we sat huddled together in winter coats and boots while the rain fell. Our team was short players because it was youth recreational soccer, it was in the 50s, and it was raining. And it was Mother’s Day. Our team was losing and losing badly. We had no substitute players, and the coach was shuffling positions to keep everyone warm (if that was possible) in the rain.
At one point, the coach called Patrick’s name and said something we couldn’t hear. We watched our son go from the striker position to goalie. Patrick had never played goalie. Not once.
Our team was tired. It was raining. It was cold. And they were overmatched. Patrick gave up two quick goals, but he was not deterred. As he went to make his next save, one of his feet hit a wet spot, and he fell down as the ball went into the net. He stood up, put his head in his hands, and his shoulders started to shake. It was clear that he was crying.
“I want a do-over! This is the worst Mother’s Day ever!” And she was right.
Sometimes that’s what we need. A do-over. Kids get that; sometimes, we struggle to accept that reality as adults. I was leaving Eldredge after Office Hours and saw a group of kiddos playing boxball, or at least what I know as boxball. Sometimes it’s called Four Squares. Whatever you call it, I saw a sequence that ended in a disagreement about where the ball bounced. Two students came together and pointed in different places where they both thought it hit the ground. A third came over and said, “Let’s just do it over.” And so they did. It was that simple.
Another way to look at a do-over is to give grace to another person. I received an email message from someone this week regarding another message sent earlier in the day. This second message closed with a single sentence: “Please offer me grace.” My response was equally simple: “Don’t give it a second thought. Grace.”
However you slice it, our shared humanity demands that we give each other do-overs. Or grace. Or the space to make mistakes with amends.
A lesson that our kids know well.
Brian G. Ricca, Ed.D., is the superintendent of East Greenwich Public Schools.