I walked in the house the other day just in time to hear Madeleine on the phone signing herself up for soccer. This is where teaching your children decent phone manners and a good dose of independence will get you--ten weeks of outdoor soccer, complete with practice nights, weekend games and your turn on the snack list. I couldn't decide whether to be thrilled Mad was taking the initiative or devastated that I would now have to find the wherewithal to commit to the soccer schedule.
I know, I know. Mothers across America are suffering in bleachers in rain, sleet and snow all fall long. I should not complain, but I've always been leery of having my kids in sports. I'm horrible at keeping track of too many activities, and I don't want my kids to be under pressure to perform (read: screaming coaches) when nothing about their genetics says team sports are anywhere in their future. For the longest time, neither kid has shown the tiniest bit of interest, and I've been reprieved.
But no more. When your kid signs herself up for soccer, you know it's time.
For the next five days she tormented me with questions about when we'd get her shoes, when we'd get her shin guards, when we'd get the t-shirt. When we finally had everything she needed, she paced the house until practice day. I started to feel guilty for not offering her soccer sooner.
The day of her first practice she could not understand why we couldn't go to the field two hours before time, just to make sure. When I wouldn't give in, she found a ride going five minutes earlier than we could leave. I thanked my lucky stars for the reprieve and let her go.
Later (five minutes later) I was thrilled to see my sweet girl have the time of her life on the practice field, under the care and encouragement of some really nice parents/coaches who clearly did not have it in them to yell--other than to encourage the girls to really go for it and not be afraid of the ball. What was I afraid of?
At bedtime, after a shower (one point for soccer--no arguing over bathing), I brushed out her hair, droning on and on about how proud I was of her, but she stopped me mid-sentence, a sweet smile on her face.
"You don't have to be proud of me, Mom. I did it for myself."
And that's when I realized the real reprieve was Madeleine finding soccer on her own. I didn't have the willpower (or commitment) to sign her up sooner, but it worked out in the end afterall. She's taking full credit for the joy of her experience, and that's more than any mother can hope for.
How about you? How do you navigate your kids' activities--when to nudge and when to let their own interests rise to the surface? I'm finding that on this point, I've got a lot more to learn.