Stand Down or Stand Up?

My oldest son, Caden, plays U15 hockey. His league is comprised of 13- and 14-year-olds and this is the first age level they’re allowed to bodycheck. Caden is 13 years old which means this is the first year he’s playing with body contact. There’s a lot to learn and trust me when I say it’s super hard for moms in particular to watch. It’s taken some adjustments; my son used to talk about nice goals and assists, and now he’s more interested in watching back videos of his hits (and I swear my husband is no better)! *Eye roll* The first half of the season is a bit of a gong show as these kids learn to use their bodies properly without overdoing it. There are proper ways to not only body check, but also to receive a hit. The focus of the second half of the season tends to go back to the game and less about wanting to crush people. Having said that though, there are still a lot of injuries including concussions and broken bones.

As I was watching my son play many games recently during a tournament, it struck me how during one game in particular, they truly showed great control and maturity by holding back. As you can imagine, when one plays a much more physical game, tempers flare and things get heated. This generally ends in retaliation after big hits, whether they were clean or not. There is more pushing and shoving, there is most definitely some swearing, and sometimes even punching (and gasp as I witnessed this weekend – thankfully not with our team – full out fights that refs have to try and break up immediately). Next level, you all! Anyhow, my son and his team were in the semi-finals and were playing a team that was maybe a little dirty (but I’m sure that team and their parents would never agree). There were several moments throughout the game where physicality reached an unacceptable level, but I was truly proud of our boys for walking away. In the past, when another player has hit one of ours in poor taste, we’d hit back and end up with a coincidental penalty. This meant that both players end up in the box and no one gets a powerplay. Not helpful. What was helpful this game is how our players stayed cool, walked away, and then got rewarded by several powerplays. This also helped them win and get to the gold medal game.

As I was talking to my son about this after the game, I congratulated him, and we had a great conversation that followed. He agreed that holding back helped their team in the long run, but also explained that sometimes, you just need to stand up for your teammates. He’s not wrong, although I will never ever say that it’s okay to hit or fight. 😉 This tricky part is knowing when to do which one, and in the heat of the moment, that decision is astronomically harder to make.

This chat with my son got me reflecting on everyday life moments where we also need to decide if we want to stand up or stand down. Negative feedback that isn’t helpful? Let it slide off your shoulders. Hurtful comments on social media that are just made to bring you down? Walk away. Being asked to be on yet another committee that you have zero interest in nor time to give to? Say no. But what about things that are not only worth standing up for, but need to be addressed? These might align with your morals and values, you might feel very passionate about these things, and they pull on your heart strings letting you know that you need to say or do something. Advocating for something that your students need in your class? Shout it. Witnessing social injustices? Say something. Someone disrespecting your healthy boundaries? Be willing to advocate for yourself.

Where in your life can you stand down and when should you stand up? Reflect and adjust accordingly. And remember, sometimes it pays off to stand down. Keeping this at the forefront of your mind just might be what you need to lean into doing nothing and wait for it to pay off. Because it will.

Ps – In case you were curious, my son and his team ended up losing in the gold medal game. It was a super close game that ended 2-1, and although it was a hard pill to swallow, there is no shame in silver. And another positive is all the lessons they learned along the way. Go Seals Go!

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