Jane Ballot

Being me in the world

Encouragement all the way

I just saw a button that must date from the World Cup in 2010. It has the national colours and says “One nation, one team”. Sometimes, I wonder.

If South Africans parent the way in which we (well, most of us) seem to deal with our national teams, then we must (generally) be pretty poor parents. It’s fine when the ‘children’ are doing well and winning trophies and competitions, but when they lose (heaven forbid), we are (generally) critical, pretty much want to disown them and blame the ‘teacher’. (Or fire him.)

I think the greatest lie children are told is, “It’s not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game.” Just look at the general attitude of this country towards the Boks at the moment. I don’t know enough about rugby to be able to judge if they truly did try their best, but they definitely played a strong game. If we’d won against Japan, then the country would have been united and everyone would have stars in their eyes about how the cup is coming home. Seeing that they lost, it’s quite simply that there is no hope and they definitely cannot do it.

Who’s to tell?

Winning is not everything.

It is great when we win at something, it is perhaps even better when one of our children wins and we can bask in their glory. I tend to do that, anyway – bask in the glow of my children, whatever they do.

Not everyone wins all the time and, if we want to build anyone or anything, the one sure way to do it is by encouragement, not by discouragement.

Think about the trials and battles in life – some are lost, some are won, but the general trajectory is mostly always forwards and upwards. Having cancer forces the ‘step-by-step’ approach into your consciousness and it is not a bad approach to have to anything. Whatever we do, there are often obstacles that we have to face, or mountains that we have to climb. If you just go slowly, one step at a time – and, usually, with good guidance – you will make it to the top, or even around the obstacle if it cannot be surmounted.

It’s all in the mind and the way we approach things.

Maybe, just maybe, we need to stop blaming our national teams all the time and to unite behind them, no matter how they perform.

The corollary is, of course, that they must be doing their best, which is all one ever asks of a child. Or should ask.

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