Laughing in the Rain

May 1st, 2016

Last week, it rained on my daughter’s soccer game. No, wait. That’s not quite right. That phrase – “rained on” – doesn’t begin to do justice to what happened that night. One minute, the sky was moody and ominous and the next minute it was pouring down drops the size of water balloons while a gale force wind blew in out of nowhere.

When the first drops hit, I waited expectantly for the sound of a whistle and shouts of – “Game’s cancelled, run for it!”

I waited in vain.

There was no whistle, beyond the increasingly loud whistling of the wind. The only shouts were from wet parents and younger siblings frantically trying to hide under their camp chairs (the siblings, not the parents. Well, come to think of it, some parents were trying to hide, too).

Anyways, apparently one does not cancel a soccer game if it rains unless there is also lightning. This was a revelation for me. I spent a fair chunk of my childhood participating in assorted youth sports, but my primary participation was in softball and tennis. Both these activities get canceled it rains and for good reason. Have you ever tried to play with a sopping wet tennis ball?  It doesn’t bounce. At all.

Thus, having grown up immersed in the realm of genteel, civilized sports, I was unprepared for the required hardiness of the soccer world. I was also unprepared for that cloudburst. No umbrella. No raincoat. No jacket of any kind, actually. I huddled there on the sidelines in my work slacks and blouse thanking every god of providence I could think of that I hadn’t worn a white shirt that day.

Soccer in the RainAs the rain pelted on, I watched an amazing transformation take place among the players (and the parents). When the rain first hit, there were squeals and shrieks of surprise followed quickly by disgruntlement and whining. My own athlete was on the brink of tears, watching my husband beat a hasty retreat to the car with her younger brother and sister.

But then something happened. They embraced it. They squared their shoulders, tipped their heads back, and laughed like fools. A high-spirited hysteria set in and they went wild. They charged onto the squishy field with abandon, leaping into the air and giving each other sloppy high-fives. The kids sitting out on the sidelines abandoned their refuge under a few giant umbrellas and started a game of tackle dodge ball in the mud.

And we parents could only watch and wonder – and laugh with them. What else could you do? It was mayhem. It was fabulous.

Twenty minutes later, the game was over and everyone was soaked to the skin. We squelched to the car, shook ourselves like dogs, and climbed in, still laughing. My daughter peeled off her wet clothes and teased me for not being able to do likewise. We called in a pizza order from the parking lot and headed to pick it up. We’d earned our thin crust pepperoni that night.

There are many character traits that I hope my daughter develops as she grows. Kindness, honesty, integrity. And resilience – the kind of resilience I saw in her on the soccer field. I hope she learns to look a challenge in the face and rise to meet it with good humor and good grace. When caught in a rainstorm, you can hide and cry, or you can laugh at the rain and keep on playing. I hope my daughter always chooses to laugh in the rain.

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