“Surely it is much more generous to forgive and remember than to forgive and forget.”

— Maria Edgeworth

Yesterday was a very long day.  It was the first day of an out-of-town basketball tournament for my granddaughter, Ivy, and her team.  Today we will hurry out again for the second and final part of the competition.  I like watching our girls play; and I really like it when they play well.  I especially like it when their efforts produce a win; but for me, that is not the major focus.  Just as in life, they go to learn, to improve, to grow as players.  I really do not whine about sports.  I like to remember that it is only a game and I try not to fall into the trap that a loss is failure.

Yesterday I found myself wanting to whine.  In AAU basketball tournaments, there are levels of players.  Our team, made up of the pool of girls for one high school team, competes at the “B” level.  The teams of “A” players are comprised of girls from many different schools — the cream of the crop — and they practice year-round.  For some reason, our girls found themselves in a game against a team who obviously belonged in the upper bracket.  They played well, but the other girls played better.  This happens.  I have no need to whine about watching some other kids play excellent basketball.  What made me want to whine was the way the referees joked with the coach of the other team, the way they missed seeing our girls fouled by their opponents, and the way they awarded free throws to the other team every time our girls breathed in their direction.  It was frustrating, to say the least, but even that was not the worst part of the experience.

When you sit in a gym with multiple courts, there are no bleachers.  Spectators sit in folding chairs at the sideline of the game, and parents of both teams are intermingled.  As we watched the uneven contest unfold, the thing that most made me want to whine was listening to the rude parents of the superstars laugh and make fun of our girls.  This sort of behavior is contagious; and it wasn’t long before it spilled over to their daughters, who laughed and gave each other high fives over the fact that they were creaming a less-skilled team.  Our girls were both demoralized and angry by the end of the game; and it was one of those times when their parents had a difficult time finding a silver lining inside the clouds.

We could tell them to forget it, but I don’t think they will be able to.  It will be a challenge to return today and not carry the bad taste of yesterday’s game into the new ones that lie ahead.  Sometimes it is hard to forget the hurtful things that happen to us.  Ironically, this is a great opportunity.  It is a chance to forgive and remember, which goes far beyond forgiving and forgetting.  I think that will be the conversation I have with my granddaughter on the way to today’s games.  Forgive.  Even when you cannot forget, forgive.  It doesn’t excuse the person who has wronged you, but it frees you to live unburdened and to leave your anger behind.  Today will be a lesson in forgiving and remembering.  I have a feeling our girls will be able to do it.