Saturday, May 01, 2010
From the looks of this photo, you might guess that Margot is enjoying soccer. And she does enjoy kicking the soccer ball, especially with her dad. But we've encountered a challenge recently that has me a little frustrated and completely flustered about how to proceed.
Min is playing soccer on a bona-fide team this season, together with some of her friends from school. The team is co-ed. On Thursdays she has practice, where she happily does headers, kicks the ball around cones, and does jumping jacks and stretches.
On Saturdays she has games. Actual games, of five-on-five kids. The games last 30 minutes. Margot has been to two games. She's cried for all 60 minutes of the two games. She absolutely refuses to play in the games.
As I write this, I know that it's silly. But I just can't understand what it is that she hates about the games. (I know I am biased; I love team sports.) The girl who articulates her feelings so well cannot put into words what is frightening her.
Today it was really hot. Margot was the only available sub for the starters on the field. Her friends ran around with the ball and got red-faced and sweaty. They begged to come out. Margot refused to sub in. I pleaded ("C'mon Min, just try!"). I reasoned ("Leah is so hot! She needs a break! Can you at least go on the field so she can come out?"). I tried a little guilt-trip ("This is a team. You need to help your friends!"). I stopped short of bribery (it wouldn't have worked, anyway). Nothing. Just tears, tears, and more tears. Eventually, the other team had to give us some players so Min's teammates could come out and rest.
I am embarrassed to admit that I feel frustrated when Margot won't play. I try my best to swallow the frustration. I know that's not what she needs and I recognize that it is ridiculous that I feel that way. She's five, after all. (If you know Min, though, you know that it's easy to forget that she's only five. She's mature beyond her years.) But at the same time, I do want her to learn about teamwork, and how to play on a team. Maybe she's too young. Maybe independent sports will always be her thing (she still adores ballet and swimming). My very wise - and athletic! - sister-in-law told me of her own lifelong dislike of team sports, noting that she had a fear of letting down her teammates. Perhaps this is the issue that Margot cannot yet articulate. Who knows.
But now I am left trying to decide whether we show up to every game for the rest of the season or just call it quits. I fear that calling it quits sends the wrong message because I want her to try. She'll never learn if she doesn't try. But then again, if we do go to these Saturday games, I can expect more tears whenever she's asked to step onto the field and that seems silly. I would love to write a post in late June about how, in the last game, Margot decided to sub-in and scored a goal, sending her soccer confidence soaring. But really, we all know that life doesn't work that way (anyone else hear the theme song to Chariots of Fire playing right now?)
I'll keep you posted.