SO, this week has been a bit crazy and I didn’t do a whole lot in the world of cooking! Although I have a lot of great recipes coming, I thought I’d share a bit about what I’ve been seeing lately in the world of social media and kids sports. I, like everyone, believe that my children are amazing! They are talented, smart, kind, and every other adjective that I can think of! I am remarkably proud, but find myself struggling constantly to maintain some perspective when it comes to them and their activities. I have seen countless posts about kids being benched, and coaches behaving badly so I thought I’d share my experience.
We have been following our children to sporting events and dance rehearsals for literally the good part of fifteen years, so like most of you we have seen a lot in the world of parents and coaches. This past summer with our oldest heading to college we completed one child’s sporting career so to speak, but continue the journey with the younger two. Our daughter is fully immersed in dance team and our youngest is currently playing baseball. Although we have seen our share of struggles with our daughter in the dance world and I’ve had my “dance mom” moments, she takes most things with a grain of salt so I guess it’s easier for me to handle. But my youngest son’s sports are a whole different beast, so here’s where the perspective comes in.
In the last many years much has changed in the sporting world, or has it? My youngest son is naturally athletic, but like most kids, his favorite sport was whatever he was playing at the time. He went from soccer to baseball with happiness and excitement. It was fun. But that all seemed to changed about two years ago. Those that have soccer players may know this, but the selection process for teams went from a child’s grade to their birth year. This meant that all of the kids our son had played with for many years were no longer going to be on his team. For two seasons we found that he was getting moved not only new coaches and teams, but to new positions without ever feeling comfortable. He had been a defender and was successful, then he was moved and I started to watch the confidence fade. We spent two years, watching the light go out on a sport that he loved. We also watched him play less and less. It’s hard to watch your child get benched when they were once a successful starter contributing much to their team and learning about teamwork along the way.
Baseball was even worse. We were on several teams and no matter what happened we saw more and more coaches who no longer cared about the development of the players they were coaching and more about winning every game. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s terrible to watch your child’s team lose games over and over, but it is also life. Not everyone can win. I found myself becoming so upset, my heart was aching for my kids constantly. I wanted to spout off on Facebook or twitter chastising everyone in my path!! So, I asked myself a question. What is causing me such anxiety over this? Is it that they’re hurting? Is it that I’m pissed off at crappy coaches? Is it that I have a dream for them that I’m having to let go of? Am I unrealistic about their ability? Is it that I’m over-scheduled and so are they? I needed to desperately get a grip and manage my expectations, but this mama bear was REALLY struggling with that!! My son was cut from his baseball team last year, no warning , no explanation, played well but it didn’t matter. That…was…awful!! He kept asking, “what did I do wrong?”, “why didn’t the coach like me?”, “But I did everything I was told to do and my stats were really good!” It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to watch my son go through. We simply said, we don’t know why, but these things just happen. It makes no sense, but let’s move on.
Life lessons are tough. But guess what, I gained another lesson in perspective. We were forced to go back to little league for a season and you know what happened, my son was a star. he caught every game, and excelled. He hit line drives and rocketed balls over the outfielder’s heads and I watched him change. He had FUN again. He gained confidence in himself, and I chilled the heck out!! We also watched him begin the school year with confidence, he was like a different person than the previous year. We went from meetings with school counselors and teachers, to straight A’s. You see, he struggles a lot. His self-confidence is at times non-existent. He was a victim of bullying in second grade and it changed who he was. But he was coming back.
This fall, although he made his soccer team, he decided that he no longer wanted to be shuffled around. He didn’t want to work his buns off to be a bench warmer. He just wanted to play baseball. It was painful for us to agree to this. I never want my kids to give up on anything, especially themselves. But there came that creepy perspective. He is not Pele’, nor will he ever be. He was good, but nowadays that’s not good enough. He wants to play baseball, and although he’s not headed to the majors, it really is his strong suit. So guess what, that’s what we are doing.
In the end I know my feelings were probably a combination of all those questions combined. Find your perspective, it may not be easy to accept, but it may be the difference in your children’s happiness. Do they love what they are doing or do you? Find what they love and do that, even if it’s not what you love. Sitting on a bench is not fun, but in the end I discovered that sports and coaches really haven’t changed. There are good ones and bad ones everywhere you go, and we have had some really good ones!! What matters is the happiness of our kids and the benefit they get from being part of a team. It matters that they learn respect for authority and respect for others. It matters that they learn about their own abilities, or lack there of. When they learn, this magical thing happens, we do too. We get some much needed perspective for our misguided perspective!!! I know that this whole experience was really tough on me as a mom, and it doesn’t mean that I won’t ever be upset, but for now I got a great lesson and for that I’m grateful, heartbreak and all! Now let’s PLAY BALL!!
And that’s my dish!!