Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Soccer Drama

G started organized soccer this fall. She has played before, in those rec center once-a-week fun camp sorts of things. But this year, she was finally old enough for AYSO. She was soooo excited. Big kid soccer! A team! Games! Uniforms!

She is in U5, so it's still pretty informal - Saturday morning, half hour of drills followed by half hour of 'game'. No teams, really, and no coaches. Parent volunteers out on the field, walking the kids through drills provided by the league. Then they split the girls up and play 3on3.

The first week was awesome. She had a blast. I was proud of how well she played (she really has some natural ability), but even more happy about the big smile she had on her face. All was good.

Then came the second week. Tears, hysteria, screaming. She didn't want to go, she hated soccer, she was 'afraid' of soccer, she was 'never ever playing soccer ever again'. I tried being understanding - she barely qualified for U5, given her September birthday. Without a doubt, she's the youngest girl on the team. But, then again, she is mature for her age, has good ability to follow directions and knows basic soccer skills, and she had SO much fun the week before. How could it have gone so wrong???

Being understanding was getting me nowhere. Other than kneeling in wet grass, holding a sobbing child. So I admit it, I went for bribery. Play the rest of the game, and get a treat. It kinda worked - she went out there, but mainly just stood on the field and whined.

We spent the next week discussing soccer. How good she was at it. How her team was counting on her. How she had so much fun the first week. How she had begged to be able to play, so we had spent lots of money on the registration fees, the cleats, the shinguards... Essentially, we told her that she was finishing out the season. She was a big girl, and she would suck it up. Was that the right approach? I have no idea. But I know that her excuses (scared, tired, hated soccer) didn't make any sense. So maybe she just needed her hand forced.

The third week was more of the same, with some twists. She was fine on our way to the field, then fell apart when we got there. Another epic meltdown. After a little 'come to Jesus' conversation with her about the consequences of behaving like a baby (namely, being treated like a baby and not getting to do all the other stuff she might want/like to do), she was great for the last half of the hour.

She got tons of praise and encouragement for that, of course. And then the husband and I settled in to see what week 4 might bring.

And she was back to the G of week 1. Smiling, running, having a blast.

I don't get it. Is this a girl thing? (J has never acted like this - hot and cold in the space of a minute - and soccer is not the first time we've gotten this sort of reaction from the second child). Is it just personality? Is there something we can/should do to help her deal with these situations better??

What I know is this: It is Tuesday, and I'm already dreading Saturday morning. It might all be fine. I sure hope it is. But it could also be awful, and I could end up sitting in a field, feeling like the biggest failure a Mama has ever been.

I'm not sure I can handle the drama.

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