Tagged with "sports"
19 Dec
2017
Posted in: parenting
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Recognizing My Selfish Parenting

The second day of high school our freshman came home declaring he was going to be a U.S. history teacher. No more engineering or business degree for him. Ninety minutes with his freshman history teacher had changed his life course, or maybe not. He could easily be a professional musician, or coach, or a street performer. The later has crept into conversations ever since a trip to Key West.

Four months of high school has taught me that we are fully immersed in a phase of parenting much different than any we’ve been through to this point. He’s changing, both physically and socially, and redefining who he is and where he wants to fit. More than ever I see our role as parents as guides through this process. We don’t want him to veer into choppy water with illicit behavior and friends that aren’t good influences, but I want him to chart his own course free of what his family and others expect him to do.

In August, a friend told me to prepare for him to “lose his mind.” I thought she was referring to the three worst things I could think of like drugs, alcohol and sex. It’s happening on a much smaller scale that I wouldn’t even notice if I hadn’t given birth and lived with the child for 15 years. There’s a shift in his growing up. It hasn’t been a bad thing, but it’s definitely a THING.

Little things have morphed over the last few months: the clothes he chooses to wear (lots of khaki and black in his closet), his friends have expanded to include new faces (some who are seniors), there’s a wider array of music coming from his bedroom (not necessarily a bad thing), and he thinks more critically about topics but also has most definitely come to the sarcastic side with his mom. The biggest change came halfway through football season. He casually mentioned one day that he wanted to try wrestling and not play basketball. Honestly, I didn’t pay much attention. I wrote it of as spending too much time with lineman who are also wrestlers. He’d never wrestled, but had been playing basketball for years.

American flag hanging over a wrestling mat

The wrestling thing never went away. He clearly had no desire to play basketball. It was wrestling or no winter sport. I found the idea of no winter sport more appealing. The child had never wrestled…EVER. Our exposure to wrestling amounted to watching one match on ESPN two years ago. We’d never even been to a wrestling dual or tournament. We knew absolutely zilch. Even in my sports reporting days, I never covered wrestling. The child had lost his mind.

The germophobe in me tried to dissuade him with a list of communal skin infections he’d be exposed to at practice and meets. He wasn’t grossed out.  I shared my fears about becoming weight obsessed. He shared with me information on what and how he planned to eat. I reminded him that he was likely to not do well. He reminded me there are worse things than losing. He could get hurt. That other person is trying to get you to fully submit. He asked how this was different than football.

Upperclassmen football players gently tried to convince me to allow him to wrestle. Numerous coaches and friends who were former wrestlers joined the pro-wrestling movement. Our son didn’t push, beg or throw a fit. He gave us his reasons for wanting to change sports and left us to decide.

All of my excuses covered the one I didn’t want to verbalize. I like basketball. I wanted to watch him play basketball. I had made this about him taking something from me. I would never sit in his high school gym and watch him score on a fast break. I am selfish. His life is not mine. He’s never lacked confidence when trying new things. I didn’t want to watch him fail. I didn’t want to watch his struggle to learn a sport and compete with people who have been wrestling for a decade. I didn’t want to put together the shattered ego. I didn’t want him to take the hard route when he could just do what he’s always done. I have much to learn in parenting. He wasn’t afraid. He knew it would be difficult. He knew it would take work. He wanted to do it anyway.

So, we have a wrestler. I sit on a different bleacher hoping he doesn’t get pinned. He enjoys teaching us what he’s learned. I’ve enjoyed diving into this mysterious sport to support him with his new love, even if the intensity of some matches makes my stomach roll. Success is slow coming, but losing hasn’t changed his desire to learn and grow.

We’ve faced backlash from friends: “How could we let him quit basketball? He could have been so good. What a waste of height. He’s going to regret it. You can’t let him do whatever he wants.” I’ve heard it all. I gently remind most that our kids are not us. His life is his to lead with me to guide him along the way. A few people I’ve had to remind that he didn’t become a drug dealer. He simply shifted how he saw himself. He’s not a basketball player. He’s a wrestler. Maybe he’s not a chemical engineer. Maybe he’s a history teacher. Maybe he’ll continue to play an instrument. Maybe he’ll decide to stop.

I’ve learned loads in the four months we’ve had a student in high school. Most importantly, my parenting skills have been refined. He’s not a baby that needs his mama present all the time. I don’t need to know what he does during the day, although I really wish I did know. This is the part in the journey where we really let out the reins. We’ve laid the groundwork and now we see what he does with it. The letting go is officially the most difficult part of parenting. I won’t mold his life into what I want it to be. I’ll help him to make his life what he wants it to be, even if that means he doesn’t shoot free throws.


 
One of Us
By     |    Nov 8, 2017
Posted in: parenting     |    1 Comment

One of Us

I’m a nervous creature by nature and have serious worrying tendencies. Sending our oldest to high school sent me through a minefield of emotions. I’d never attended a school that size, excluding college. He’d be with hundreds of students from all over the county, and I knew this point marked the time he would be more with others and less with us. All we had taught and trained him up with would be put to actual test. When I dropped... [Read More]

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Out of the Busy Race
By     |    Oct 12, 2017
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Out of the Busy Race

I’ve officially dropped out of the race for most busy mother. Someone else can take the title. There are people in my vast circle who bring out the worst in me. You have them too. They want you to see all the balls they’re juggling at any given time. They are constantly on their phones. They want you to know what they’ve had to do without any help from anyone. I’ll find myself spouting off my own to-do list and... [Read More]

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Adjusting to a Different Summer
By     |    Jun 21, 2017
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Adjusting to a Different Summer

I miss preschoolers. Maybe I don’t miss everything about having young children, but parenting a teen and a tween this summer has me nostalgic for truly lazy days of summer. I was prepared for life to change when our oldest entered high school. He’s active and involved. I knew certain things, like sports, would require more time. He hit the ground running this summer and his commitment motivated our 7th grader to start his own training program. By 9:45 a.m.... [Read More]

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For the Love of Humanities
By     |    Apr 27, 2017
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For the Love of Humanities

It was evident early in our parenting journey that our children had an affinity toward sports. They enjoyed playing anything we exposed them to and watching sports was a family activity we rallied around. As a former sports reporter, having children who enjoyed something I loved was an easy way to connect. Early on we decided, as parents, that our children would be exposed to a wide array of experiences. We didn’t want their childhood to solely revolve around fields... [Read More]

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That Time I Danced in a Competition
By     |    Apr 11, 2017
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That Time I Danced in a Competition

I collapsed under friendly peer pressure and danced in a Spotlight Dance Cup Regional competition last weekend…on a stage…with an audience and judges. Gulp. It all started last summer when I took an adult ballet class to better understand my daughter and her passion for dance. I heard rumors that our studio director wanted to do a moms and dads dance for this season. Not happening. I enjoyed class but was not going on stage. I repeat, I was not... [Read More]

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If Only There Was a Parenting Guidebook
By     |    Mar 22, 2017
Posted in: parenting     |    1 Comment

If Only There Was a Parenting Guidebook

This morning my youngest son asked what the hardest part is of parenting. It took me a few minutes to decide. Not being able to fix heartbreak. Not being able to fix injuries. Watching time slip through my fingers. Making sure everyone feels listened to and treated fairly. All possible answers. The one I gave him: there’s no guidebook. Sure there are plenty of books on parenting. I remember with our oldest flipping through “What to Expect the First Year”... [Read More]

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Coaching and Expectations
By     |    Oct 19, 2016
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Coaching and Expectations

Three years ago when our oldest son started youth tackle football, people told me to be prepared. Tackle football was not for the faint of heart. There was the physical nature of football, but there was also the nature of football coaches for these 5th and 6th grade-age boys. By the third football game of our son’s first season, it was apparent that football coaches were different than any coaches our athletic children had ever been acquainted. Our oldest son’s... [Read More]

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Learn Something New: Adult Ballet
By     |    Jul 7, 2016
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Learn Something New: Adult Ballet

Each year I make a short list of books to read, places to visit and a new thing to learn. I manage to finish the book list and cross off places we visited. Then there’s the thing to learn. For three years, the new thing has remained the same: take a ballet class. It sits at the bottom of the list with me making no attempts to make it a reality. The excuses piled up. I’m almost 40, surely too... [Read More]

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Learning the Dance Curve
By     |    Apr 11, 2016
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Learning the Dance Curve

Dance class has brought our daughter much joy over the last couple of years. It’s the thing that brings the most joy to her six-year-old heart. This year we put more time into her sport and added one son to the dance floor. Sports in our family are typically played with a ball on a field or court. There are referees not adjudicators. Scoreboards clearly tell you where you stand. Dance has been a learning curve. I’ve heard people snicker... [Read More]

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Meaning Behind Childhood Heroes
By     |    Feb 3, 2016
Posted in: parenting     |    1 Comment

Meaning Behind Childhood Heroes

I was recently verbally slapped for my 8-year-old’s choice of heroes. They are, for the most part, athletes, and another adult expected better from me as the parent. I was told it should bother me he didn’t name a scientist or teacher or former president. It doesn’t. As he matures, his list will change and those larger-than-life people he sees on TV and in the news will no longer dominate his thoughts, but stay firmly planted in memories of his... [Read More]

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For Our Teenage Son
By     |    Nov 10, 2015
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For Our Teenage Son

I quietly listened to an acquaintance lament about life with a teenage son. I knew she expected me to jump in with my own complaints, but I wasn’t taking the bait. I spent years listening to people tell me to just wait until I had a teenager. It always sounded ominous. Our man/child first born is, at the worst, annoying, loud, selfish and stinky. I know the teenage waters have potential to become choppy and murky over the years, but... [Read More]

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