- Every team had at least one weepy kid, or a child who thought his job was to poke with his shoe at the last shreds of grass on the field;
- Every team had two or three avid players, kids who were hungry to play the game;
- All the rest of the kids, the vast majority, were playing the game in an adequate and non-notable way -- and their parents, to a person, were all mildly embarrassed that the kids weren't trying harder.
Then I told this mom about the time one of my children was in a performance and spent half the time with a finger up a nostril. Mortified, I sent increasingly frantic telepathic messages to my offspring, until I couldn't stand it any more and forced myself to look at another child.
I looked at a pretty little girl in a yellow dress. Who, as it turned out, kept flicking the hem of the pretty dress so her flowered underwear showed. And then I paid attention to a little brown-haired boy who was grasping his crotch in time to the beat. And then there was a bouncy chica who whipped her head from one side to another so that her braids smacked the kid next to her in the face. And a child who was so scared she stared in shock at the audience.
All these wonderful children were up on stage, and yet the only thing I'd been aware of up to that point was my child's finger up my child's nose.
Which just goes to show that often when we feel as if there's a spotlight shining on our children's embarrassing behavior, we're the ones shining it. And the norm isn't the best kids, it's the goofy ones. And learning to watch someone else's child is really a good thing. And the more we remember to laugh and shrug our shoulders, the better off we'll all be.