Parenting off the Field

My husband and I never registered our kids for soccer, t-ball, basketball or kickball. In today’s society, we are an anomaly. Friends of Joe and I may blame us—knowing the last place we want to be on a Saturday morning is sitting in lawn chairs, watching the sun come up behind a soccer goal. The reality is that we always new each of our daughters would have been that kid. You know who I am talking about. The kid out in left field picking dandelions, chasing butterflies, pulling at their socks, getting hit in the head with the ball. That kid.

Understanding exercise was important; we bought a swing set for the backyard, made regular trips to the park, and ate at family friendly restaurants with the three Ps—paper placemats and playscapes. However this did not assuage my guilt, so I found a sport that did not involve a ball. Ice-skating. Perfect. I could manage 10 a.m., and the rink was a five-minute drive from home.

Flying-sit-spinning out of control
Each Saturday morning I loaded my 5-year-old and her younger sister into the minivan and headed out—usually having to return to the house for the forgotten glove or windbreaker. At the rink, I watched Hannah’s ankles strain, then straighten—sort of. Her grandmother came to watch her glide three feet across the ice. Joe and I shared proud moment when Hannah became coordinated enough to stand on the ice while simultaneously looking over at us to wave.

During the fourth lesson I learned there would be a test at the end of the session. If Hannah failed, she could not move to the next level. The pressure was on and the fun (for me) was over.

The day of the test arrived. As I stood with Hannah, my crazed, competitive self took over. I grasped my cherub by the shoulders, had her look me in the eye and growled, “Focus! You must focus so you can pass to the next level! Take this seriously!” I pled temporary insanity, my rational self returned and we decided that if our girls could not participate in a sport without being pressured to aspire to the Olympics, it was not for us.

Single Teen, Needs Assist
Not knowing whether to yell, “touchdown!” or “goal!” has caused some problems.

Having developed a crush on a soccer fanatic, Olivia was at a loss as to how to strike up a conversation with this young man. Her solution was clever, but doomed. While spending time with friends, she began an instant message dialogue with the potential suitor. Her soccer-loving girlfriends fed her questions, comments and made sure she did not ask about lay ups or home runs. Olivia’s retelling of this Cyrano moment was priceless—and she did learn a few things about soccer—but predictably the romance fell flat. Honesty really is the best policy.

Swinging in the Rain
I wonder sometimes how different my kids would have been if they had been given a healthy dose of the athletic gene, or even enough to be interested. My husband and I attend high school football games—alone. I do not think Hannah knows her team went to the playoffs this year, and even with the assistance of her friends, I am not sure Olivia knows who David Beckham is. But they are involved. Just not in athletics. Hannah’s favorite Facebook flare reads “Orch Dork,” and Olivia has a passion for acting that borderlines on obsessive. (Not many parents can boast that their 14-year-old can quote dialogue from Funny Girl.)

I don’t have any regrets about the decisions Joe and I made regarding sports—and it may not be too late to get them active. Hannah has begun taking walks with the dog and borrowing my bike on occasion. A week ago, Olivia asked if she could come to the gym with me. But I am on to her. She just wants to watch movies in the cardio cinema—she does not realize Singing in the Rain is not on the schedule.

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About Kristie

My name is Kristie. I am a print designer struggling in a web world. Somewhere along the journey I discovered writing. Enjoy!
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