For the past few years I've had the honor and privilege of calling myself a "soccer mom".
My oldest daughter has found a love of soccer and my younger two are trying(Valiantly) to follow in their sister's footsteps. So more often than not, during the weekends during the school year, I can be found on the sidelines of the soccer field.
And in the beginning...when my daughter was five, the games were...well, comical. They were less like games and more like controlled chaos. The girls played on a short field with maybe four players on each team, and no goalies. There was no score. There was really just a lot of chasing the ball. All of them. In a pack like wild dogs.
This was all to teach the fundamentals of the game. Perfect.
As my oldest has gotten a little older, the field length has gotten longer, the girls actually hold their positions on the field(Somewhat) and there are goalies(even though they look like these teeny tiny breakable dolls in front of these HUGE nets) . Perfect.
It all started out so cute and fun...and actually kind of nice to spend my Saturdays watching my girls play and learn a game.
So last year...at the beginning of second grade the practice/games went from once a week, to twice a week. Ok, no biggie. But there was also an option to add two extra days to sharpen skills and play more games. And I bought into it for a while. Sure... give her those two extra days... for a few hours each day. Why not? She loves it.
Second grade. Seven years old....Four days a week of soccer?
I mean, there are only seven days in the week, right? So FOUR of them were spent playing soccer.
Let me say it again...SHE. WAS. SEVEN.
I can't stress that enough here.
So here I was, signing her up for these extra days...thinking...
"Great, she'll sharpen her skills... she'll become a better player... blah blah blah blah blah"
Was I serious?
I mean, she's a child. A baby, really.
Why should she be sharpening her skills when she's really just learning the fundamentals of the game still and trying to find out if this is something she really LIKES and wants to pursue?
That point got kind of lost.
And I think it's gotten lost on a LOT of these "Soccer parents" (You can really put any sport/hobby in there instead of soccer... it applies to anything, really)
We get so caught up in...well, KEEPING up... that we're talked into signing up for more... and we push push push...and for what?
To have our kids burn out at age eight and tell us, "Yea, ya know what?! I don't really like soccer anyway."
I just don't get it.
Where we live... it seems that the trend is that you have to start your child in a sport or activity by the age of three or he/she will be BEHIND.
Are you kidding me right now?
There are SO many sports and activities my kids would like to try, but heck, I don't have time to sign them up for them all NOW.
So I get sort of frantic thinking...
"Holy crap... if they don't start now...find their passion RIGHT NOW... they'll be so far behind, they'll never be as good as the other kids... they'll miss out on so much"
And I've come to realize that really? I'm being a freak. And there are a lot of other freaks out there just like me .... freaking out about the same damn thing!
And it's not our fault... it's like a wave... it knocks us down.
We get so swept up in keeping up and trying to do what's best for our kids that we forget what's actually BEST FOR OUR KIDS!!!
My girls want to try new things... art classes? Sure! Tennis? Maybe! Basketball? Yup! And the list goes on and on. They're 8 and 6... they're babies. They have time. PLENTY OF TIME.
But as parents, it seems like we're constantly being pushed to sign them up for more... sharpen their skills... get them ready for the next level. The next level? But what about THIS level? How about we look at THIS level and hope the kids are having fun and learning something new and if they're good, well that's just an added bonus. I mean, right?
But is this what it has come to? It's like we're already prepping them for college... a scholarship, maybe(Because frankly, who the hell can afford college anymore?) ... But it seems less like a recreational activity for them and more like WORK.
And as we all know... there is plenty of time for work later in life, but for kids? Their time is so short to just be a kid and do what they like! LETS LET THEM BE KIDS!!!
I mean, don't get me wrong... if my daughter begged me to play soccer four days a week, telling me she didn't want to do anything else... I'd sign her up. I really do want her to be happy.
But when I ask her if she wants to play extra days and her response is "maybe" instead of "YES, YES, YES!"... isn't that a sign that maybe it's time to introduce her to something else?
Open a door to something that may pique her interest more?
I don't know... maybe everyone else has figured this out ahead of me, but from what I've seen, I don't think so.
I've seen the panicked look of the mom who just signed her daughter up for soccer for the first time at age eight...wondering if she'll be the black sheep because all the other kids started when they were three.
I mean, that's sad, really.
At eight years old you're still figuring out what you like and what you don't, right? You shouldn't be an expert in your field at that age.
I mean, I'm in my mid-30's and I'M still figuring out what I like... I'm certainly not an expert at... well, ....anything.
Heck, maybe I'll give soccer a try.. ;)
PEACE, LOVE & RIGHT NOW