If you’ve been following over the past few months, you know that we had a little one in soccer. You also know that it’s been an emotional journey. (You can catch up in posts 1 & 2.) Well, our soccer season is over, so I wanted to let you know how the whole thing ended.
The season ended on a triumphant note. No, they didn’t jump on the field and start playing with the other kids. No, they didn’t score a goal or even dribble a ball besides that first day. But there was interest.
In the next to last practice, kiddo was playing around on the playground as usual. (I had given up trying to make them play, but we were still going because I had to provide the opportunity for growth, even if they decided not to take advantage of it.) All of a sudden, they ran over to the chain link fence that separated them from the other kids who were actually, you know, playing soccer, and they watched. Intently. For a span of minutes. Minutes that felt like golden hours. There was an acknowledgement that something was going on. Something to pay attention to. And for the first time all season, the tears I held back weren’t of frustration born out of inadequacy, but of joy. A barrier was starting to come down.
The last practice was even better. As soon as we got there, little one ran onto the field and joined the other kids in the huddle. Sure, they were happily shouting the entire time while the coach was trying to talk, but they were with the other kids. Participating. Not in an appropriate manner, but still…participation!
It didn’t last long. The huddle broke, and my child ran off to the playground as per usual. The rest of that final practice was a bit anti-climatic as all we did was run and play on the slide. But I didn’t care. Nothing could have taken away my elation after such a seemingly small, but relatively huge event.
What I Learned About Being a Mother
After my first post, I was bound and determined to have my child either sit with me or play soccer. Doing anything else was not going to be an option. This wasn’t out of some suppressed desire to become Mia Hamm myself, but because my kiddo isn’t so great at conformity. I’m the last person to want everyone to conform to fit a certain mold, but the capability of recognizing and working within some sort of structure is a skill that we all need in order to be functional in society. Or pass Kindergarten when the time comes.
The responses, on the blog and in real life, caused me to switch course. I started allowing them to do what they wanted to do, but we were going to at least go to every soccer practice. There had to be an opportunity to learn, even if it wasn’t being utilized. It seemed like a fruitless effort, until those last two practices.
I don’t know that I definitively learned anything about the “right” thing to do as a mother in these hard situations. I did learn to recognize that while there are some times where you have to stick to your guns, regardless of the size of the tantrum, there are sometimes where you have to compromise, or even cave. Some battles are not worth fighting, and still others are won not by confrontation, but by gentle, consistent encouragement.
Knowing which approach to apply to which battle is still a mystery that largely eludes me. But I’m figuring it out.
Appreicating the Coaches
In the interest of full disclosure, my kiddo received free enrollment from Jump Start Sports in exchange for me writing about the experience. My opinions are honest regardless, quite obviously.
I really can’t say enough good things about them. Their programs were affordable. And if my kid had jumped on the field day one and started kicking the ball around with the other children, trying to score goals and defend, they would have been doing their job. But I feel like the fact that my little one was inclined to do the exact opposite, yet the coaches continuously acknowledged and encouraged them, speaks volumes. And they did it while respecting my parenting methods, whatever they were on any given week.
Ultimately, for my child and their individual needs and goals, I feel like we got here in the last few practices: