As a mom, part of my job is giving my kids choices and supporting them in the activities they enjoy. At least that is what I righteously believed when the girls were engaged in activities I liked – ballet and gymnastics.
While I had acknowledged to the girls that team sports existed as well the martial arts, I put more hype and enthusiasm around my presentation of all types of dance and gymnastics. This was going well and I was feeling like I had it made. Not only were they happy in dance and gymnastics, they were excelling and recommended onto invitation-only pre-team. I was going to make it through their childhood without having to watch them play the games I detested in all those horrible phys ed classes.
Then their father entered the picture with his growing fondness for soccer….
I am not ashamed to say that I prefer the “girly” sports or loner, non-competitve sports like running. There’s nothing wrong with that. To say there is would be to devalue the athletic skill and rigor that dancers and gymnasts go through. Those sports take both major strength and skill. It might be cool to be a girl and conquer the so-called male dominated sports, but that shouldn’t take away from the cool-ness of doing something stereotypically reserved for girls such as dance.
Power to the pink, I say.
I am happy to dress my girls in pink tutus or shop for sparkly tiny-hiney shorts for gymnastics. I can coach them on “butt in, chest up” pliaes. I will put their hair up in buns, and smear bright red lipstick on their kissers for the end-of-year dance recitals. Waiting outside of dance class I will (sometimes) tolerate small talk with the too-perky, Mercedes-driving blonde mother of Brittany “who just LOOOVES to dance and is SOO ready for pre-competition dance because she’s ALWAYS wanted to be a dancer and cheerleader.”
But I cannot for the life of me pay attention when anyone – even my own children -- do anything that involves a ball. Don’t get me wrong, I understand that being engaged in team sports can have beneficial effects on any child’s development. I get that. And I get that I am very much in the minority when it comes to detesting team sports and the competition that goes with them. The sound of the theme song for Monday night football brings tears of sorrow to my eyes and unleashes “Oh my God! I thought football just ended and it’s starting again?! Turn it off or shoot me, please.”
I get Dave’s irritation with me when I spaced out during our (then) 4- year-old twins’ soccer games and claimed, “I AM paying attention” despite the fact that I was not even facing the soccer field. What I don’t get, are all the rules and regulations of these games and how passing a ball
For what seems like hours on end…
Is able to hold anyone’s attention.
There are no pretty colors to look at.
No fun music.
No fun shoes to buy.
No pretty leotards.
No glitter, rhinestones or sequins.
What there is, is an UGLY blue and yellow mesh reversible shirt.
And ugly black soccer shoes…they don’t come in pink.
Trust me. I asked.
There is also wet, dew-y grass to sit on at 9 AM on a cold fall morning with plenty of bugs to swarm your hair as it begins flattening from the humidity. There is a dirty wet ball that occasionally flies in your direction, eliciting the leftover panic and trauma of failed kickball days of grade school.
I was always the last one picked for the teams. And rightly so. I hated playing all those stupid games and usually just stood there and let the ball fly by me and let someone else chase it. If I caught it, it was only because it had bounced off my face or head and then landed in my hands.
God, I hated PE class…
And team sports. It was just a game and there was not a single ounce of me that cared if we won or lost. If it’s all for “fun,” then why are people screaming and getting so worked up? This is NOT fun.
It’s too much pressure. And I don’t wanna play.
And the male PE teachers with their pot-bellies and whistles hooping and hollering “GET IT! RUN!”
Like. Really. Who the fuck cares? I was pretty sure I had better things to do than get worked up and chase a god-damned ball up and down the grass. I used to wonder who the hell these old fat guys were to tell me to run like the wind when it was obvious they were the ones who could use a little exercise. If you want the ball in the goal, YOU do it, I used to think.
The summer is winding down, swim lessons are wrapping up, and I asked the girls what activity they want to do.
“Soccer,” Sophia told me.
My girl-y little brain must have misheard her. Or perhaps she doesn’t understand what I’ve asked so I try again.
“It’s fall and ballet and gymnastics are starting again. Do you have a favorite?”
“Yes. I like gymnastics.”
Relief flooding me, I swipe my brow realizing that was a close one. I almost ended up having to trade in enjoyable May dance recitals and mock gymnastics meets for watching a bunch of un-coordinated kids chase a ball
“Ok, Sophie. So you want me to sign you up for gymnastics?”
“Um. I think I’ll do soccer.”
Son of a bitch! I begin cursing in my mind at Dave for his new found enthusiasm for fricking soccer. Not only does it distract him from his responsibilities, it’s now spreading down to our children.
Mother-of-the-Year begins tapping furiously on my shoulder telling me to lie to Sophie and tell her that soccer isn’t a fall sport.
The Clinician Mother with two degrees specializing in human development and healthy psyches who practices as a mental health crisis therapist sticks her damn big nose into the scene and reminds me “you have to support your children. This isn’t about you.”
“Ok Sophie. You know what? I’ll make an exception. We’ll do two activities this fall. How about soccer and gymnastics? Or maybe you’d like to do ballet and gymnastics?”
She doesn’t even think about it before agreeing that gymnastics and soccer sounds great.
“Are you sure? If you want to really excel at something it’s best to stick with it so you get really good at it. You’ve been in dance and gymnastics for a few years…”
And Mother-of-the-Year jumps in, “If you don’t do dance, you don’t get to have the end of year recital. Or wear make-up and get a costume.”
The Clinician Mother jumps back in, “But if you want soccer….I can talk to daddy about signing you up.”
Rats! I think I’m going to cry and Mother-of-the-Year has all out lost it. She’s set off to find Dave and blame him for distracting her budding ballerinas.
The Clinician Mother grabs Mother-of-the-Year by her arm and asks her to hold off on the witch hunt for a moment. We must put this in perspective because things could be worse. It’s not like the girls are shooting up heroine, dying of cancer, or voting Republican – an offense which would warrant disowning them.
Clinician Mother calmly asks self-centered Mother-of-the-Year who hates all things involving balls and bases to let go and allow the girls to follow their passions. It is by following their passions that they are most likely to succeed and, more importantly, be happy.
Mother-of-the-Year feels her heart sink far, far down and sighs.
So just as another mother may get annoyed that I favored all-things pink and girly for my girls, I get annoyed when people put down “girly” things. Because, isn’t that just the same offense, only in reverse?
The twins start soccer in a couple weeks. Maybe one season will be enough. But if not, maybe the coach will be willing to consider pink and purple shirts for the girls with the numbers outlined in sequins and a round of Zumba dancing as the warm-up. This blue and yellow mesh really has to go.
And I can always stare blankly at the
of the ball and meditate on the fact that things could be worse….
At least they aren’t voting republican
At least they aren’t voting republican
At least they aren’t voting republican.