Thursday, September 9, 2010

when to meddle

A couple weeks ago Elle tried out for the Jr. High soccer team.

At first I just figured she'd make it (in my inexperienced little mind). I mean, she had played two whole soccer seasons (ha) and knew how to hustle.

But then I found out nearly forty kids were trying out for fifteen spots.

And then I found out that it was a seventh AND eighth grade team.

And then I realized that some kids, (maybe the ones with dedicated, on-the-ball parents), had been playing soccer all their lives in clubs and all that jazz.

And then I decided not to take it too seriously. It would be a great experience for Elle, make it or not. And that's the attitude Elle had right from the start.

So tryouts came and went.

The first day it was almost 120 degrees outside with a heat advisory warning so they canceled that day, but Elle and her two friends trying out with her worked their little hearts out the four other days.

Some days Elle thought she'd maybe make it. Others she thought there wasn't a chance in the world.

On the last day they handed each girl an envelope with their tryout fates enclosed on their way off the field.
My heart was beating fast as we pulled in the driveway after dropping the other girls off, but Elle was surprisingly calm and collected. She opened the letter, shrugged, a little sad, but totally fine that she didn't make it, and went inside to get ready for a birthday party.

I sat in the car letting my feelings roll around in my head for a little bit.

Feelings of relief because she'd be in trouble with her tennis teacher who wants her to really commit to tennis right now.

And because things are crazy enough as it is around here.

Feelings of pride for Elle that she gave it her best shot, and that it was hard. (I like hard...and I know I sound like a broken record about that...).

But most of all it left me feeling a little guilty. I should have encouraged Elle to practice more. I should have let her play on more teams. I should have watched the tryouts (lugging my kids along-side me in the heat). I should have gotten to know the coach.

Which led to a big discussion between Dave and me about when to meddle in our kids' business.

At what point does it get political? At what point do teachers/coaches give precedence and advantage to kids or families they know well? I'm sure most of them don't mean to, it's just human nature to favor what you know.

I have always put in very strong wishes as to who their teachers would be in elementary school. Is that too much meddling? I don't think so...those elementary school teachers are SO important in the lives of young children, and friends and all that make a pretty big difference.

But there comes a point when you have to let that go. Let kids fend for themselves. Let them have big disappointments. But when is that point?

I learned my lesson with Elle and her classes this year (in this post here...definitely not a good time to meddle...she's doing SO great without me going in there and messing things up).

But at what point can an involved parent really help their child gain confidence and really succeed in life? I'm not talking cheating or undercover deals. I'm talking about teaching your child how to really talk to adults by being a good example yourself. Asking questions. Getting to know those he/she may be involved with.

I know my Dad was super involved with all my brother's basketball things. I know he was a big influence on my choosing to go to Boston University for a year (which was one of the best decisions I ever made...and really, would I have made it without him quietly orchestrating in the background? I don't know). I know my mom was involved with teachers and lessons and all that came with that.

The truth is, we parents have a big responsibility to choose when to get involved, and when to let go. And as my kids turn into teenagers, I can see that's gonna be a tough balance.

Having said all this, all these thoughts weren't aimed at the soccer team tryouts. Elle was up against some kids who have played all their lives and made the team fair and square. The whole process just made me think about all that other stuff.

I think it's so important for kids to find their own way in the world...but there's nothing wrong with a little direction and gentle prodding here and there.

Just some random, early morning thoughts to start off the day.
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