I did not play sports growing up. I did not experience, nor understand, the friendships developed, confidence built or the concept of team work. I grew up in a ridiculously close-knit family and I did learn those fundamentals from everyday family life. Having two amazing coaches (my parents) and five team members (my sisters and I) we were very much a team and while we have grown in number, we are still very much a team.
Marrying a man that lives and breaths sports, I began to understand and admire how much sports shaped the person my husband is today, though I was not exactly standing in line for sports preregistration for my kids.
I had never been one to sign my kids up for a ton of classes and activities. Up until last year when our oldest started kindergarten, the kids and I had been beating to our own drum. We had done what we wanted when we wanted... just how I liked it.
I never understood the hype surrounding classes and kids. From ballet to basketball to French lessons in one day. What happened to the carefree days of the late 70's and early 80's? We all seem to have turned out just fine without schedules as busy as a CEO and the need for a personal driver.
Yes, I never understood the hype but I started to understand it when my son started kindergarten last year. The questions started 'what activities has he done?' Ummmmm, Basic Family 101, Extended Family 202, Beating to Your Own Drum 303.
I remember years ago driving with my windshield wipers on and avoiding a rainy day only to drive past a field of parents happily cheering for their children while they kicked a ball, hit ball or tackled one another for a ball. I was less than impressed and silently told myself I would never be that mom.
As our family grew and our Jetta was traded in for a minivan, I found myself on the very same rainy field from years ago. Not only was I happily standing in the rain with no umbrella but I had a clipboard in hand as I gave the team their soccer shirts and my sports loving husband coached the team before heading to work.
This weekend, while I struggled with my kindergarten daughter (who is less than impressed with team sports) to get back on the soccer field, I finally began to understand the importance of friendships developed, confidence built and the concept of team work participating in sports.
While my virtual/overworked husband tried to coax our daughter back on the field via the phone, I was at a loss for how to handle the situation. A couple short years ago I probably would have packed up, went home and cancelled the class. This morning I found myself explaining the importance of being a team and sticking it out. While I was shocked (and terribly impressed) with my advice, she was not budging.
Halftime came and went and she stayed on the sidelines pleading to go home. The coaches relentlessly tried to get her on the field but failed miserably as did my husband and myself. Finally, I stopped my lecturing, pleading, begging and bribing and began to ignore. Yes, ignore, her pleas to go home.
Just then I heard one of the coaches talking to her. I did not turn my head and look, rather I pretended to be playing on my phone and I avoided all eye contact with her. He spoke to her very kindly and patiently while finagling her to the field. Next thing I knew our girl was not only on the field but running after the ball, smiling.
At that moment, I realized I was at a new mile marker in my parenting journey. My children no longer only relied on only me for guidance, confidence and all other life skills. I realized they are not just learning at home, in school and on the playground. They are learning on the field. Coaches do not just teach the fundamentals of the game, they also teach the fundamentals of life. My daughter walked off the field confident, happy, enthusiastic for the next game and most importantly, she felt like part of the team.