Friday, September 30, 2011

Even with pep talks, this idea wasn't a slam-dunk

From today's Briefing:

With trepidation and doubt, I have registered Katie in a recreational basketball league.
A few months ago she volunteered that she wanted to play. “Are you sure?” I asked. “You have to run and dribble and follow the rules and go to every practice and every game.” (I would have bowed out at “dribble.”)
She answered yes then and every time since that I’ve asked.
I still considered “forgetting” that she wants to play until past the deadline for winter enrollment. But too many of her first-grade friends are trying the sport, too, and hiding the entire season would be impossible. And mean.
I fought the memories of her two rocky soccer seasons and our calendar already crammed with activities and my daughter’s sometimes fickle nature as I clicked “submit” on the online form just in the nick of time.
So now we wait to be placed on a team (please let it be with other girls from our school) and to learn practice logistics (please let it be at a nearby gym on a day that’s not already booked) and to see the schedule (please let there be no 8 a.m. games).
In the meantime, we continue to talk about commitment.

When Katie was 4, she tried soccer. She was enthusiastic about the uniform, matching hair ribbons, cleats, pink ball and even the concept of the game. She was not a fan of actually playing the game.
She was reluctant to get out of my lap and sit with her team, never mind play with her team. When she was on the field, she was more of a speed walker than a runner. Finding and kicking the ball was a low priority.
To be fair, she was a preschooler. She’s matured since then, and I’m not going to hold those two tearful seasons against her.
Katie still has commitment issues, though. Take, for example, her love-hate relationship with gymnastics.
For more than two years, she’s taken a one-hour weekly class, working on forward rolls and bridges and the ever-elusive cartwheel. When she’s there, she loves it. Some Tuesday afternoons, though, it takes a lot of coaxing to get there.
When I picked her up in front of school this Tuesday, the pleading was in full force.
“I don’t want to go to gymnastics today,” she said, giant tears threatening to spill on her cheeks.
I felt her forehead. No discernible fever. I considered how much sleep she’s had. No discernible shortage.
Time for my speech.
“Katie, I’ve already paid for this lesson, and not going is like throwing $20 away. It takes a lot of work to earn $20. And you took a break from gymnastics this summer and begged to return in the fall. So you’re going.”
She crossed her arms. Some tears fell. She said no, again. We started walking home.
We stopped to say hi to a friend, mom to two older girls. I asked for advice on the lesson — should I give in or make her go?
Maybe if she has a snack first she’ll feel like going, my wise friend suggested. Her fifth-grade daughter knelt down, looked Katie in the eye and told her, “Sometimes I don’t feel like going to dance, but when I get there, it’s actually fun.”
Each of us emboldened by advice, we stopped at home for a snack. At 3:30, Katie bounced without regret onto the gym floor, and at 4:30 we headed home, each of us in good spirits (despite a slip off the balance beam that scared us both).
“Are you glad I made you go, Katie?”
Without hesitation: “Of course.”
Bring on basketball season. We’re ready.

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