Recently my daughter started soccer. The whole experience is pretty entertaining considering the Soccer for Tots class is two grown men trying to teach a bunch of 3 and 4 year olds trying to learn the basics of soccer. These two guys don't stand a chance.
The class starts with stretching and a general overview of a few things to remember.
1) No pushing, shoving or biting.
2) Listen carefully to what the coaches tell you.
3) No hands unless you are the goalie.
This if followed by sprints up and down the gymnasium. Maddie has this one down. She is used to running mindlessly back and forth, which is one of the reasons we thought soccer might be the sport for her.
Once they get this down, they move on to dribbling the ball up and down the gym. Maddie is psyched because she gets a ball with pink hearts and princess crowns. She is remarkably coordinated at running while kicking a ball despite she is my offspring. Trapping the ball with her foot without using her hands? Not so much. She uses her hands to place the ball under her foot but at least she is can balance on one foot with the other on the ball without falling over...also a small miracle based on the fact she's my kid.
Then things get a little hairy. The kids are asked to split up in to two teams and form a line. Each one takes turns shooting a goal while another is goalie. The coaches tell the kids to sit and wait their turn, but instead a game of Duck, Duck Goose ensues. In a later drill, I catch Maddie flirting with 3 boys while waiting in line. Now, that is my daughter.
Finally, the two teams face off in a scrimmage and that is where the coaches really lose all control of the situation. The kids have to transition from having their own ball to all having to go after one single ball. Most kids immediately gravitate towards the big bag of balls on the sidelines to get their own. The kids who are really into it end up practically killing each other to get the ball. I now understand why the first rule the coach mentions is no pushing, shoving or biting. Kids start dropping like flies and run off crying towards their moms waiting on the sideline.
And then there is my daughter. She runs up and down the gym waving at me like a beauty queen in a parade as she goes by. Then she finds a friend on the other team and instead of focusing on the ball, she wants to hold her new friend's hand as they run. Finally, she completely loses interest and starts doing pirouettes in the middle of the game as she sings to herself.
I find myself calling out to her "Get in the game!" or "Go get the ball!" "Come on Maddie! FOCUS!" As if she is playing in front of a scout who wants to offer her a full ride. And that is when I realize; I've become "That Mom." Yes, I drive a minivan, so the Soccer Mom jokes are a given. I haven't given in and gotten the sticker to put on my back window, but the fact that I am stressing out about my 3 year old daughter’s lack of focus (an oxymoron in and of itself) proves I have issues.
Eventually she gets tired and comes over and sits on my lap. "Mom, let's go home." I explain that her team is depending on her to play with them and she needs to get out there or she won't get a sticker at the end of class. Her response? "Yes I will." And she's right, because no matter what she will get one and the hilarity of the whole thing sets in.
In the car on the way home she says she tells me doesn't want to go back next week. I explain that she can't quit. "We are Stien's and Stien's don't quit." (Did I really say that? You bet) I ask if after soccer is over if she would rather take dance class and she perks up. I realize I have only just begun a long journey in parenting. When they say "pregnancy is the easy part, wait until they are born"...they aren't kidding. Cooking her for 9 months was a cakewalk. That was creating a life, now I am responsible for creating a person.
I don't want to force her to do things she doesn't want to, but I also want to teach her discipline. Soccer could very well be her thing because despite the fact that she is a "baby kitty cat," and prances around in princess shoes 99% of the time, she is very athletic. Her lack of interest and focus as a 3 year old may ruin her chances of winning MVP of Soccer for Tots, but that doesn't mean we should avoid having her start now. Or are we pushing her? If we give up now, she may miss out on an opportunity down the line? And then there is the issue of sticking to something and not giving up. Are these all things she is just too young for us to worry about? I think it is never too soon to instill good values. I also want her to know that being active is important, but don't want to give her a complex.
And the sport thing is only the tip of the iceberg. It has occurred to me that things I never really gave much thought to could permanently damage my kid if I approach them incorrectly. Going to church, yelling at the driver in front of me, stressing out and yelling at my husband and even making fun of people. They hear it ALL (seems to be a theme in my blogs?) and now I realize more than ever my actions end up becoming a carbon copy on my little creation.
And same goes for my competitive edge. It is truly a part of who I am, but I have to remember that I was never an All Star in any sport, even in high school, let alone preschool. I found my niche in theatre and speech in high school and it wasn't until I was in my 20s that I started running. All I can do is set an example by my actions and LEAD the kids rather than push them and know that no matter what, they are watching and listening to the examples I set.
As for Soccer for Tots, we'll close this chapter in 2 weeks when the class ends. We'll sign her up for dance and see what happens. My bet is she will enjoy staring at herself in the mirror, just like her mom.