“I don’t know if they’re ready for this.” A mother’s first attempt at organized sports.

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girls playing soccer

The first day of soccer practice.  It all started so well.  Yo Gabba Gabba doll in one hand.  Crayon in the other.  My kid definitely wasn’t going to be touching the ball with their hands.

We even checked in and changed into our new, purple soccer shirt without incident.  Kiddo ran out onto the field and started dribbling the soccer ball around like it was nothing.  This kid is athletic.  This kid is agile.  This kid loves to run.

But then the “organized” part of organized sports began.  The coach called all the kids onto the field to sit around in a circle.  Everyone obeyed.  Except mine.  Mine ran in the other direction.  The amazing assistant coach tried to coax them back over.  He is a saint.  As I dragged them kicking and screaming back over to the soccer ball, back over to the other, obedient 3-5 year olds, he kept trying.

As the coach was teaching the others to dribble the ball like a dog on a leash, and then letting the dog loose as they kicked as hard as they could, mine was running off the field to observe a run-off grate.  As the assistant coach tried to show mine how much fun it could be to kick a ball into a net, mine was crying because mommy wouldn’t let them run off to the playground.

The thought came into my head.  It was a fear I had, one that I had hoped would be wrong. “I don’t know if they’re ready for this.”

My child does not excel at organized.  We used to go to the library every week for circle time.  We pretend that we don’t go anymore because I graduated college and got a job and he went to school and we got too busy and… But the reality is that we gave up.  Kiddo stopped sitting and listening to stories at all.  They would sit for the art activity at the end, but we weren’t even making it that far.  After someone else would refuse to let my kid steal their shaky egg during music time, mine would scream so bad we’d have to go out into the hallway.

We tried to go back.  Rinse and repeat.  We’re in the hallway again.  “If we go back in there, you can’t scream.  Your other option is to go home.  Do you want to stay or go home?”


A single word answer that killed all hope.  They weren’t having fun.  We definitely weren’t having fun.  So we stopped going to the library.  (For story time anyways.  We still go to occasionally print out papers and rack up some late fees on some books.)

This was turning out to be the library all over again.  But I couldn’t let it be.  If I didn’t make them stay, if I didn’t make  them participate, even if they didn’t want to, we weren’t going to learn this whole organized thing.  And organized is a large part of functioning in society at any age level.

The practice part of practice was over.  Now it was game time.  I sat my child down on the sidelines.  I held them tight in my lap despite their struggles.  I told them, “Look at the other kids on the field having fun.  You can go have fun with the other kids on the field.  Or you can sit here with mommy.”

There was screaming for 20 minutes.  At least I think it was 20 minutes.  Time was a medium that my brain wasn’t able to process in those moments.  But there was progress.  Kiddo would leave my lap, but instead of running away, they’d throw their tantrum on the grass next to me.  The next thing I knew they were standing, screaming, on the wrong side of the goal.  But still in the goal!  Cries turned to blubbering as the other kids got close, trying to kick the ball into the net, as mine whimpered and observed.  They came back to me, still screaming, but at least they didn’t go at full sprint to that enticing run-off drain.

I heard another parent say as their daughter dribbled the ball down the field, “Wow, she’s really doing it!”  I was so happy for them.  Truly, I was.  It was what I had hoped I’d be saying about my child that day.  But in all honesty, that would have been a miracle.

Sports aren’t about miracles.  They’re about hard work.  Sure, maybe that hard work can manifest itself in something that seems miraculous.  But it’s the training and practice that makes things happen.  It’s also about teamwork.  It’s about that assistant coach who isn’t giving up on my child.  It’s about the coach who is focusing on the whole of the team, because my tantrum-throwing bundle of joy isn’t the only one there; other kids came to learn and grow, too, and the way they work together to handle all the different situations they have going on is a great example of teamwork to the youth they’re working with.

We made progress last week.  But we still have some work to do.  I think it’s possible.  I’m not expecting miracles.  But I am expecting improvements.


I’ll be posting updates halfway through and at the conclusion of the season.  My child’s wonderful coaches work with Jump Start Sports.  They have a ton of different programs across a ton of different sports in PA, OH, MI and NC.  My child received free enrollment because I’m writing about their experience.  I feel like this is pretty obvious, but I still have to let  you know:  the free enrollment doesn’t effect my honest opinion and what I’m writing on this blog.  All of this is 100% true, down to every last temper tantrum.


13 thoughts on ““I don’t know if they’re ready for this.” A mother’s first attempt at organized sports.

  1. Kalen

    My son wants to play football and I worry about it for him. He can be sensitive at times and I know they are going to be yelling at him quite a bit. I just hope he can handle it. It should be good for him if he can!

    1. femmefrugality

      I hear you on the worry! Finding a good coach/program is key. My husband had some great ones as a kid. There was some yelling, but also a lot of encouragement. They were really able to identify talents and play the kids accordingly, big or small.

  2. brian503

    All three of my children have played organized sports. My oldest son now at the High School level. The all started with soccer. I agree it’s all about learning to work together, support teammates, and listening. All good things to learn. It great at the young age to just try as many sports as you can to figure out what you child likes and dislikes too.

    1. femmefrugality

      Absolutely. At this age exploration has been a huge thing. I’m not really sure how to handle everything. I know they like soccer solo, but the whole listening and playing with other kids thing is proving to be a challenge. There are probably some underlying issues here with my kid, but I am really glad they’ve got the right people working with them.

  3. Messy Money

    Both my guys play organized sports. We have settled on ice hockey and ball hockey – but we did try baseball and soccer and they didn’t stick. Us hockey parents have become friends now and we look forward to the games and tournaments more than the kids I think. LOL

  4. kat ~ frugalvoices.com

    My son was so excited when we signed him up for soccer when he was 5. We bought all of the equipment he needed (not easily affordable at the time). We got him to the field on time. He ran out onto the field with the other kids. The coach blew the whistle and called them all over. My son’s nose spontaneously started to bleed. He came back to us and said he wanted to go home. We said, c’mon, give it a chance, you’ll have fun. He refused to go back. We eventually gave up and went home. He never did get into sports. But he graduated a year early and was 3rd in his class. He’s a happy computer techie. It seems kids just need to follow their own paths, even when we think they should be doing what everyone else is doing.

    1. femmefrugality Post author

      I agree to some extent. With mine it’s at the point where this “independence” is interfering with any type of learning, though. I’m glad your son found his niche!

  5. kat ~ frugalvoices.com

    Geez, I realize how my comment must have sounded. I actually regret not pushing him a little more toward sports. Organized sports really do help a person become more well rounded and social. I applaud your efforts, I really do. Best of luck because I know how hard it can be. 🙂

    1. femmefrugality

      Haha, no worries! No offense taken. I think you have a valid point. It’s just that in our case, it’s not so much the soccer that’s disliked, it’s the whole complying with what anyone else says to do, which is going to be a problem come Kindergarten. It really wouldn’t matter if we tackled it on the soccer field or at the library, but it has to change. And they like soccer more than sitting still, so I thought this would be easier. And maybe it will be. At the very least, they’re getting exposure.

      And I think giving your kid the option to bail is important, too. I played sports until it wasn’t fun anymore; until I wasn’t getting any play time because I wasn’t popular enough. I was glad my parents gave me the option to bail in that situation. It sounds like you did the right thing for your son. He turned out great. 🙂

  6. studentdebtsurvivor

    We don’t have kids yet, but I do remember my own experiences with organized sports fondly. Sports are great for teaming kids discipline patience and dedication. Some learn earlier then others, but kudos to you for not giving up.

  7. Pingback: A Soccer Update - Femme Frugality

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