As many of you know, we just dropped off our daughter in California as she is a freshman at a small Christian college out there. She called a few days ago and informed us that she signed up to play on a women’s intramural soccer team. When she told me that, I had one response…I said “excuse me?”. The reason for a reply like that from me is that my daughter played on only two soccer teams growing up and uh…um…well, they were both memorable experiences.

 

The first team that she was on was a county team comprised of six year olds. She was so excited for that first soccer game and my husband and I and our three sons who at that time were all soccer stars on their own teams all piled into our car to cheer on this little sister who was making her soccer debut. The entire way to the game she chatted on endlessly about how much she loved her uniform…that the color of the shirt was so pretty. When we arrived at the field, she asked me which mom had the “snack duty” for that game and did I know what type of snack that the lady brought? My sons were getting a bit nervous at the fact that her mind did not seem to be on the upcoming game itself at all. Their fears were realized when three minutes after the game began, Kasey ran to the side of the field where we were all standing and whined “I am getting all sweaty, I feel gross and I HATE this!” Needless to say, our soccer loving sons were appalled. They were even more mortified when about two minutes after that, she ran directly to the coach and asked to be taken out of the game. When the coach complied and honored her request, she promptly headed for the snack cooler, grabbed a fruit box drink and sauntered over to the shade of the nearest tree, sat down and began sipping away. Mind you, the game is still in the first quarter at this point. We have never let her forget that experience and it has been recorded in the Hastings family memory books.

 

The second soccer team she was on was about ten years later when one of her friends talked her into playing on her team. We reminded her of her one and only soccer experience many years earlier but she plunged ahead anyway. This time around proved to be a bit more productive but not much. She really enjoyed the games but loathed the practices and to put it bluntly, the entire season was like pulling teeth in terms of making her realize that if she wanted to participate in games, that practice was not optional. Suffice it to say, it was another long soccer season.

 

These two memories about Kasey’s soccer exploits was the reason for my incredulous response when she told me that she chose to join the women’s soccer intramural league at college. After my initial request of asking her to repeat herself, I then spent the next three days texting to her that she made a huge mistake, that she should have chosen mixed volleyball (guys and girls teams) as that would be more fun, not as competitive and a sport that she would be much better at. I also tried to appeal to her stingy side by reminding her that if she stuck with her choice of soccer, she would have to shell out some money for shin guards and cleats. All of my persuading was to no avail however and she was not to be swayed. She stuck to her guns and was firm that soccer was for her. I am ashamed to admit that I even stooped to tactics such as telling her that she may end up embarrassing herself and her team mates as she just was simply not gifted in this sport. She was unphased and undaunted however and I began to dread hearing about her first game which was last night.

 

She called and said “ Well, I’m off to my first game and there will be lots of people there because there is a guys’ football game right next to our field so it should be fun.” I have to be honest and admit that I cringed when I heard that. I mean, here is my non-competitive, girlie- girl type daughter who has always preferred to spend an afternoon at the mall shopping over being at any type of sports event , and she is telling me that she is about to go humiliate herself in front of scads of folks. I shared a feeble and half hearted “ Good Luck” to her over the phone and rolled over to go to sleep. Since we are three hours ahead of her in California and her game didn’t begin until 8pm, it was 11pm here and I had already hit the sack. Before I drifted off to sleep I said a silent prayer that she would not be trampled over by another young lady who was a ten year soccer veteran who lived and breathed soccer twenty-four seven. At about ten minutes past midnight, my cell phone alerted me that I had just received a text and I just knew it was my little girl emerging from the end of her game, most likely battered and bruised in both body and spirit admitting me that she had made a huge mistake in choosing to play on a team. I reluctantly flipped open my phone and peeked at the text message dreading the words that I was about to read. As I focused my sleepy eyes on the message, here is what it said-

 

WE WON- I GOT TWO GOALS AND FOUR BLOCKS!

 

I rubbed my eyes and read it again to make sure that I was seeing correctly. Was she serious? This girly daughter of mine who loves pink, shopping and reminds me of Reese Witherspoon in “Legally Blonde” just put the ball into the net twice in one game? I texted her back and asked her if she was pulling my leg. She insisted that she wasn’t and I could just feel the joy and exhilaration coming through that phone. I just smiled and shook my head, then texted back a big congrats to that kid who I had spent a good bit of time discouraging from playing on this team.

 

What is the lesson learned here? Let’s not sell our kids short…let’s not automatically tell them that they cannot do or achieve something that they have launched into. The truth is that the ladies intramural program at this small college is not going to make headlines anywhere as in the grand scheme of things, it is just not that big of a deal. To my daughter however who had something to prove to herself, it was quite obviously something very important to her and she scored in high fashion with flying colors. She excelled in an area in which she had struggled in before and yet I hadn’t believed in her or supported her. Two goals, four blocks and I didn’t think she had it in her.

 

I learned a valuable lesson last night which is to not doubt or discourage our children regardless of their age or their endeavors. How about you? What is your child attempting right now that you are not behind them on? If you can answer that question, then change your thinking, rally behind them and believe in them all the way…It will mean everything to them if you do!