Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Playing Sports

I have no athletic ability whatsoever. Seriously, not an athletic bone in my body. At 32, after having five kids, I decided to try running. I haven't completely given up on it, but I don't like it at all, and I'm not sticking to it the way I should. My childhood experience with sports was pretty lame. I wasn't good at any of them, and I only played a season or two of the sports I did try. My parents offered for me to play sports every time the registrations came around, but I wasn't into them. I didn't really care about sports or want to be a star or anything. I played softball for a few years, but I got a later start around fifth grade, and by then, all the other girls had been playing for years and were really good. I did swim on the swim team for three or four years. I liked swimming, and I actually have some ribbons from winning some races. That was one sport where I did ok and stuck to it for more than one season. My parents asked me every year if I wanted to play basketball for my elementary school. For some reason, I decided to play in eighth grade. Everyone else had been playing together for years. Needless to say, I didn't try out for the high school basketball team.  In high school, I played JV lacrosse freshman and sophomore years. I wasn't good by any means, but I was proud of myself for actually completing two seasons of a sport. By junior year, I knew I couldn't be on JV anymore, and I didn't have a chance in hell of playing Varsity, so I retired my stick. Actually, I think I passed it on to my superstar sister... At the same time that I started softball, my little sister was in first grade and started to play as well. She was the superstar. From that point on, she played softball, basketball, and soccer, and she was really a star. I was more of a sidelines type of girl.

When Princess was around four, we put her in a soccer lesson class at the Y. It was very basic, but she did pretty well with it. As a first time mom with no experience in children's sports, I didn't realize how early you have to register for sports. So, in the fall I looked to sign her up for soccer, and all the registrations were closed. It was ok, I'd be more on top of it the next year. Then I forgot about it again. Now she's eight and has never been on a soccer team. Oops.

When she was in kindergarten, I managed to get the registration time right and sign her up for softball. She was in the beginner league and learned the basics. She definitely didn't love it, but stuck with it that season. Her favorite part of playing softball was the participation trophy she got after the last game. Last year, in first grade, I asked if she wanted to play but she didn't want to. So, I came up with the brilliant idea of having her play lacrosse. I had visions of her playing from first grade all the way through high school, maybe even in college. Even though I wasn't great at it when I played, I could picture myself teaching her some of the basic skills and going to the park to play catch. I thought my old stick might even be in my parents' attic somewhere. Oh, this was going to be so much fun, and so bonding for us!

So, I signed her up. And I paid a lot for it. Kids' sports are freaking expensive. Maybe other people don't think the cost is too high, but I think they're too much money. But since I had a superstar in training, I spent the money. When we got the email with team assignments and the list of what was needed, we spent another small fortune on her stick, goggles, and mouth guard. Thankfully her cleats from the short-lived softball career still fit. I practiced playing catch with her a few times in the back yard before her first practice. When we got to the day of the first practice, I was definitely more excited than Princess. When we had a little over an hour until practice time, I remembered her mouth guard. We needed to mold it to her mouth. It was an excruciating experience. She was crying, gagging, looking like she was going to barf all over the place. I didn't remember it being that bad, but I was fifteen the last time I molded a mouth guard. To a seven year old, it's probably pretty scary. We kept cutting it shorter and shorter, to the point where it looked like it would barely cover her teeth. Yet she still gagged on it. We left for practice anyway, and I figured I'd ask the coach for tips on making it better for Princess. We got to practice, and I was back to being stoked about her playing. I saw lots of people I knew at the field, and I was feeling good about having a daughter playing lacrosse. The kids split into their teams, met their coaches, and started a rotation of stations introducing them to the basic skills needed to play lacrosse.

It took me about two seconds to realize Princess had inherited my athleticism. She was much taller than most of the other kids. She was much less aggressive than the other kids. When everyone ran in to scoop up the ball, she kind of hung back and let everyone else get to it. She was more interested in talking to her friends from school than actually playing lacrosse. She stopped for a drink about ten times more than everyone else. One of the times she came to me for her water bottle I realized she wasn't wearing her mouthguard. She said, "I'm supposed to wear it?". Wow. I made her put it in and she immediately started gagging. When she got back on the field I watched her take the mouthguard out and stick it in her pocket. This was not going well. The rest of the practice was just as hard to watch. My mind wandered to her playing in highschool, gagging on her mouthguard and constantly pulling at the strap on her goggles, and I realized her lacrosse career might not be what I had dreamed for her.

When the practice was over she told me she hated it. She didn't like playing, she thought she was going to throw up from gagging, and it was too much running for her. I felt my bank account laugh at me since the money was already spent. The next practice was three days later, and she spent the entire three days whining that she didn't want to go and that she didn't want to play. We practiced wearing the mouthguard at home, which didn't help at all. In the end, her lacrosse days were very short-lived. One whole practice.

Lately I've been seeing a lot of Facebook posts about kids playing sports. It's a great time of year to be active and spring sports are in full swing. So far, my only experience with kids' sports has been with Princess. I'm pretty sure that with four boys to go, I'll become a true soccer (or football, baseball, basketball, etc.) mom. But for this season, I'm on the bench.

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