“We” started soccer recently. I say “we” because it is a family affair – we all go and cheer on our 4 year old at practice. Of course, 4 year olds playing soccer is like herding emotionally unstable cats. Most recently we participated in “4 X4” play, which was really lots of children running up and down the field in rapid succession not completely sure of the purpose. At one point, I heard our daughter tell the coach, “Excuse me, he’s not sharing, I want the ball, please.”

I suddenly realized how much practice I need in learning how to encourage my kid in athletics. How does one reinforce that aggressively taking without asking, interrupting others, and openly striving to be better than the next kid are not typically encouraged in the classroom, but celebrated on the athletic field? I better be flexing my parental muscles, I’m feeling a whole new learning curve approaching!

My husband is very competitive: every activity in life can be strategized, won or lost. Certainly, he is diplomatic, self-controlled, and professional. Yet, when it’s game time, you better get your tail out there – win – or die trying. He is passionate and fiery: defeats are felt deeply and personally. Me, not so much, at least not in the traditional sense. Growing up, I never got into team sports, my competitive nature was fierce, yet always only with myself. I had no desire to be better than others, I just needed to know I did my absolute best. Mentally, I made sure I thoroughly punished myself if I didn’t. It has taken me into my mid-thirties to stop determining my self-worth by how well I think I perform. It’s still a little early to see what direction our daughter is more inclined – though very interesting to watch this unfold.

Even with the learning curve, I’m looking forward to this season of learning. It’s fun having kids -combining gene pools and personalities in tiny little beings and watching them grow up. Besides the obvious benefit of giving her an large open space to run, I think this activity will be helpful in teaching important lessons. Plus, it’s incredibly entertaining to watch her mesh diplomacy and manners with a budding athletic acumen. I can just hear her now, “Excuse me, I don’t want to hurt your feelings, but I am going to score a goal on you. Thanks.”

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