Weekend Wrap Up... Softball Style
If you know me at all, you know that I'm the kind of parent that feels very strongly about not over scheduling kids with sports because, in our house, school, academics and being a kid takes precedence over the "join, win, join, win" mentality that I see a lot these days. Which is why I'm very cautious about signing my kids up for all sorts of activities. It's important to us that each kid gets to enjoy being a kid: Playing outside, playing with toys, watching Saturday morning cartoons with a bowl of cereal, baking cookies with mom and that sort of thing. I want their childhood to be less scheduled and more "fun" with stuff they enjoy doing, instead of stuff they feel like they have to do.
Over the years, my kids have tried out a multitude of various activities during the school year and over the summer. From Tae Kwon Do, gymnastics, cooking classes and singing lessons; they've enjoyed trying out various things to see what they really enjoy and want to do. All 3 kids are great students, love to read and absolutely love school and learning. I've watched them through the years grow into these little smart kids who prioritize their homework and school work before anything else. And my husband and I have explained to them how important it is to not only try your best with school, but to also not stress out about being the best of the best when it comes to playing an extra curricular sport. But when it all comes down to it, school is the top priority and extra curricular stuff is lower on the list of important things. And they get it. And I think they enjoy the extra curricular stuff more because they know that we're not pushing them to be the "best of the best," the next superstar athlete. We just want them to enjoy it, have fun, make friends and learn to work as a team.
Last week, my girls had their first softball game against the school where I went to growing up. Comes full circle, and brought me back to a lot of fun memories from being a little kid out in the field. I watched as my oldest took the pitching mound for the first inning and noted the anxiety in her face and mannerisms as she warmed up and got ready to start the inning. We were the visiting team to this field and we actually sat on the home side bench because it was closest to the batters box and had a clear view of the mound. Listening to the chatter of the other team as they got ready for the game and how nervous they were showed me that they're all the same at this age when they're getting ready for a game.
As I sat there watching my girls (my oldest is a pitcher, my middle is the catcher), I made sure I shouted out the encouragement that I knew they needed, even when the ball didn't do exactly what they had planned. There were missed pitches and fumbled catches. There were perfect pitches right over the plate and exceptional plays made at home plate for outs. I love seeing my girls look at me as I sat there to see that I was proud of them for giving it their all the entire time.
Once the other team finished pitching to ours in the first inning, their pitcher came off that mound in tears. I over heard her say how terrible she did and how she didn't want to go back out there. The poor coach, he tried to pep talk her and make her realize that she did great and worked hard. The tears kept flowing and my heart was broken for this kid. This girl took her outing on the mound so seriously, that she just wasn't enjoying it but instead looked at herself as a failure. And that was just so sad to see. To me, I thought she did great. She got some balls straight and over the plate and she whiffed others. But she focused on the bad instead of all the good she did. I wished I could talk to that kid like I can to mine and give her the encouragement that I think a parent should give to their child no matter what.
Once the inning was over, I watched my girls come off the field. Neither of them were balled up, teary eyed or angry. They just were enjoying themselves. And when I walked over to them as they got ready to bat, there were smiles and encouraging words to each other, which made me so so proud. And they were both worked up about how the other pitcher was crying and upset when she walked off after her outing. All the girls on our team were worried about that other pitcher and how upset she was.
My oldest (as I'm sure most oldest children are) has a lot of anxiety and is pretty tough on herself. She expects perfection with anything she tries, no matter how many times my husband and I tell her that she needs to take it easy on herself. She wants to be the best at whatever she does and can get pretty worked up when it comes to a mistake, a missed test/quiz question or something not coming out exactly the way she envisioned it. I always tell her that I want her to make mistakes so she can see that nobody is going to die if she doesn't get it 100% right all the time. Mistakes are how we learn and nobody is perfect, no matter how hard you try. She seems to be realizing that we are so proud of her because of how hard she tries at everything she does. And watching her pitch the other night, and then come off that mound with a more positive attitude was a winning moment for all of us.
My catcher, on the other hand, couldn't give a rats ass if she misses a ball or strikes out. She's one of those kids who has the attitude of "if you don't like it, I don't give a shit." She's out there for herself and she's having a blast doing it. And that's about the best feeling as a parent, knowing that she's just going to have fun and doesn't give a crap about winning, losing or how good or bad she does.
All in all, I can't even express how proud I am of these little chicks. Not only because they give everything they have to whatever they're doing, but they're realizing that sports should be fun, and not such a stressful thing to participate in. They've got such great attitudes towards their team, their positions and the outcome.