soccer mom

On Saturdays, Chloe naps in my room in a Pack n Play since her weekday crib is in our au pair’s bedroom (which the au pair kindly agreed to since we only use it while she’s working).

Only problem is- I’m stuck out here in the living room post-shower with only the clean clothes available in a hamper, and that did not include pants.

So I did find a top and undies but no pants, so I’m sitting here bare-legged and longing for an important notebook on my desk but it is NOT worth potentially waking her, so. While Evan watches “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie,” I blog.

He’s wearing all black, which is his thing. He also favors giant scarves tied over his face with only his eyes showing, because he’s a ninja. So if you see him on a warm day looking bundled, this is why. He also insists on grip socks, like the ones he gets at Skyzone. He would wear the same black Hot Chillys and Skyzone grip socks every day if I let him.

He’s almost five, and we are engaging in more complicated battles of will. No longer can I scoop him up and carry him to wherever we’re going (I actually pulled a muscle in my arm the other day trying to lift him onto the kitchen counter). His arguments are more complex. The “right” approach is not as straightforward to me as it was when he was smaller.

For example, I signed him up for soccer this spring- once a week, 5-6pm, with 3 and 4 year olds. He started off fine, laughing his head off as the coach said, “Ready, set… Cheerios!” etc. and ran around dribbling and scoring goals. The sessions run by month and as soon as we switched over from January to February, it was a new batch of kids. Suddenly, he was “scared,” and “shy.” There were some of the same kids, same coach, same assistant coaches, same gym. You had fun! Get out there! He joined like halfway through the class.

One day, we showed up late and I was grumbling at myself about it when he refused to play because we were late. The coach came out and said, “Hey! You’re early! We’re just warming up.” That was enough to convince him to play.

One day, he didn’t play at all. He told the coach that it was because he was ready to play with the bigger kids and didn’t want to play with the littler kids. When we switched to the bigger kids class (4-5 year olds rather than 3-4 year olds), he refused to play with the bigger kids, crying, saying he was shy, scared, tired, sick, and hated soccer. (It was also 6-7pm, dinner time.)

As I type this out, it seems normal for this age, and nothing to worry about. But it pushed my buttons so bad. I was frustrated (but you love this!), mad (you asked me to sign you up!), resentful (we paid the money! we woke the baby!), embarrassed (no other kids are sitting out!). I was not the calm, understanding, supportive mom I think I usually am. I tried to force him, guilt him, bribe him. I gave up and then tried again and called my parents. I seriously didn’t know if I was “supposed” to let him sit out, go home, quit. I was kind of an a-hole, honestly. I never expected this I could not fight it. I was like an out-of-control football dad, a side of me I never knew existed. Other parents were around to hear, quietly not making eye contact or saying anything, and I very nearly asked them for advice…

And I made it into a bigger problem with my own resistance.

So what in the world was my deal? I feel pretty strongly about follow-through, keeping commitments, pushing through fear, being open to new experiences, being grateful for opportunities not everyone has, and looking on the bright side. I really really want to instill all of these things in my child.

But he’s 4. My family social worker friend K reminded me that you raise a resilient child not by throwing them into the game but by supporting them through their big feelings and getting creative about how to move forward. She had a little chat with him about what was feeling scary about it. Afterward, he said, “Maybe I’ll play tomorrow. Maybe I’ll transform my mind.” (!!!)

And he did. I gave him a big ol’ ham and cheese sandwich on the way over, and that may have helped too. He played the whole time with the big kids and he was so proud to call Mimi and Chacha afterward to let them know.

I’m reminded that kids are never simply “being difficult.” They are hungry, tired, scared, nervous, longing for connection and safety, overstimulated, frustrated over their lack of control, overwhelmed, and still learning so much. The list goes on. Our job as parents is to understand the root of it, connect, help them regulate, give them tools. Whew! This IS harder than I thought.

I’m proud of him. I’m a little proud of me and trying to give some love and support to my football dad side who is scared of weakness and vulnerability. I had all those shy and scared feelings as a kid in swimming class and it pained me to see it in him. I know much better how to manage this next time. (I think.)

And I’ve stopped raising my voice altogether because it never, ever helps. We’re doing good.

Chloe will have the calmest of the moms when she’s 4. 🙂

And she’s up!



2 thoughts on “soccer mom”

  1. So glad to hear that he did transform his mind! But I think mostly you transformed yours. That paragraph about what kids’ behavior means and what parents’ job is is quite impressive. If all my clients (or any of them, really) were as open and insightful and committed to getting it right as you, I’d be out of a job… and the world would be a better place!

  2. I’m not looking forward to this age for exactly what you’ve written here — the uncertainty about how to deal with this kind of a situation! But wow, you got through it beautifully. xo

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