This past week my five-year-old daughter completed her first season of soccer. It was her first real extracurricular activity, and something we decided she should do after she started being able to kick a ball over my sister-in-law's house. We found a league highly recommended by a co-worker for kindergartners, and away we went every Wednesday night for three straight months.
As always, I did what I normally do; winged it and hoped I didn't mess it up too bad. In this I was largely successful I guess, but here's a few things to know for parents that are entering the world of activities I wish someone had told me.
You Are Never Paid in Full For the season of soccer we paid roughly $100, and this included all the time on field, an outfit, and even a medal at the end of the season for my daughter's participation. That's a pretty sweet deal, right?
Yeah, here's my advice. Whenever you see the price of any sort of group activity, in your head you need to at least double it. For instance, the shirt of her uniform fit just fine, but the shorts were never going to stay up so we had to grab something from Target that would. You had to bring your own ball, cleats, and shin guards as well, but also essentials like a water bottle and snacks to every practice if you didn't want to watch your child go into a blood sugar meltdown.
Oh, and you'd be a horrible parent if you didn't immortalize this occasion with professional pictures of course. It all adds up.
Everything You've Feared About "Those" Parents is True It's almost a caricature, isn't it? The dad that takes the softball game so seriously he ends up in a fistfight. The mom that hires a hitman against her daughter's cheerleading rival. Remember, though, those things actually happened and will continue to happen.
Even for freakin' kindergartners, where the oldest kid in the group was just nearly six, there were still parents who would grab their sons and daughters on the sidelines and tell them they aren't taking the ball game seriously enough... or worse, berate the coaches for not really working on the needed skills hard enough. Bear in mind the whole reason you brought your own soccer ball was so multiple kids could get as much ball time as possible and the "season" netted in a single game at the end in which no score was kept and no one lost. Thankfully by then most of the Ma and Pa Lombardis had fizzled out and went looking for more competitive childhood entertainments.
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You Will Sabotage Going There The first time that soccer practice rained out I was truly bummed. It was only the second one, and I made a big show of making it up to my daughter with ice cream and a new book to read. These precious moments of childhood play lost in the ether as I hurtle ever more towards my impending entropy and death... that got a little darker than I meant it to.
After a couple of months of late nights, extra dinners, traffic, and bug bites, though, you will be praying to Thor to smite the city with his mighty rain hammer. An hour a night doesn't sound like much, until you add another hour and a half drive to the factor. Then you have to deal with a cranky kid up past her usual bedtime that still needs her story time, teeth brushed, and clothes picked out for the next day.
So one day I picked her up from school to find her in a horrible mood where I couldn't even negotiate the putting of her shoes on the correct feet without a screaming fit. That's the day I pretended to check a calendar on my phone and told her that the field was closed for sprinkler maintenance. Not my best lie, but better than dealing with a three-foot bundle of rage in a field as the sun was going down.
You Really Get a Handle on Your Child's Personal Weirdness Ever since I started sending my kid to public school it's become very clear to me that she now leads this whole other life of personal interaction that I am completely uninvolved in. It's honestly a bigger shock than I thought it would be, because it's also when you really see the evolved Pokemon version of all the things you've poured into their heads.
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For instance, I learned that five years of exposing her to Nick and Disney Jr. has apparently convinced her that the proper way to deal with tense situations is through song.
Several children that she played with on the field, for various children reasons, would get upset and not want to play anymore. They expressed this in various ways, such as sitting on their soccer balls with their heads down to out and out tears. The Kid With One F would immediately run over to them and start trying to comfort them with the "Tell me what's wrong" song from Doc McStuffins It doesn't seem to bother her that the accompanying score does not kick up behind her, but that's her schtick.
But it Really Is Magical Don't let anyone tell you different. We are made of our experiences. We are defined by the breadth of our forays into life. The more you do, the more you are, and watching your child take their first steps into whatever will be something that behold.
So yes, it's annoying, inconvenient, and often they end up dropping it all and not caring one way or another. It's also how you make sure they don't spend their lives consuming the creations of others, but go out and create life for themselves.