For some of us, there’s no question. We have a little soccer/baseball player or ballet dancer. There might be some moaning and groaning when it’s time to go to practice or wake up early for a game, but give it a few minutes and the joy of the game or activity takes over.
My eldest did not take to soccer immediately. At our first few games and practices, I could see the difference between the assertive, ball-focused 6 year olds and those who needed some “coaxing”. He fell into the latter category. In fact, he wouldn’t even go on the field during games. We kept at it as we saw sparks of interest (and we didn’t have much going on with the other two just yet).
Now, at 12, he plays for the love of the game on a silver team and knows anything and everything about soccer. So he’s my athlete.
Skip to the next one, who played soccer for the love of sitting on the sidelines chatting with pals. Early mornings = tears. Rain = tears. Hail = tears. “My shoes are too tight”, “It’s too cold”, “I can’t find my shinpads”, “Do I have to?!” Sigh. And each year we’d say, this is your last year. But come September, he wanted to play again!
And on to #3. Wow, did I want a girl athlete! And as we started earlier with each one (after all, the third one is half price!) I kept thinking, well my eldest didn’t start being serious about soccer until he was 7 or 8… let’s just push through! So, Coach Mom and the Comets pushed through U6 and U7, and then we had to call it quits. Because the pushing was not leading to any breakthroughs – just emotional breakDOWNS! No matter how cute a 6 year old looks in full soccer gear, if their heart’s not in it, do we keep getting up at 7AM on a Sunday morning to hit the pitch and battle or negotiate it out? (I’m not proud to admit that Tim Horton’s made a lot of money on the promises I had to make to get those cleats on feet.)
We want our kids to find their “thing” and their passion, so when they show an interest in something we want to immerse them in the sport! We also want them to stick with a sport or an activity and develop a sense of commitment and teamwork. At 5, 6 and 7 – do they actually have the capacity to even understand the concept of commitment? Why are we pushing so hard?
So, my daughter is now “retired” from soccer and likely all other sports, as she told me recently, “I don’t really care about chasing a ball.” You have to respect a girl who knows what she wants. We’ve also tried ballet (too slow), hip hop (I only like my own dancing), acting (I already know how to act) and piano (I like making up my own songs). My middle son has moved on to basketball, which I love because there is less equipment to buy and then find before games, and no half hour warm ups. Bonus: inside sport! He’s taken up parkour which will be useful for a career as Spiderman.
So am I even a soccer mom if only one of my kids plays soccer?!