Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Picking daisies: the tragedies of a sidelined mom

You know, my daughter is a lot like me--a bit spacey. Inner space that is, and when she plays soccer I know she's in full introspection mode because the ball whizzes by her while she's testing to see if she can touch her tongue to her nose. (She can.) My girlfriend calls it picking daisies. When her eye's on the ball, she can keep up with the rest of them. She's even scored a couple of points though we were instructed not to keep score.

We were also instructed not to coach from the sidelines, to keep our cheers to just that, cheers. But while I shouted, "Yay team!" and "Go purple!" I had a really hard time not yelling, "Emma! Look at the ball! It's right in front of you!"

Today as my son on his second day of swimming lessons was sitting with his feet in the water and turning his swim coach Amy down yet again for anything else, I got frustrated. Yesterday, I'd promised a trip to Chuck E. Cheese if he walked in the water with his instructor, who has taken the other kids out as deep as their chests.

I don't know where he picked up his fear of pools, but he contents himself to sitting by the pool instead of in the pool. And even though the YMCA supervisor asked us moms to restrict ourselves to the picnic tables under the covered area, I could not resist crossing the set boundaries to tell Brendan to do as Amy says so we can go to Chuck E. Cheese and also if you don't Mommy is going to throw you in the water!

Nothin' doin'.

Brendan didn't make a big deal out of it like the other kid--Nathan or Dexter or something, who cries all 45 minutes until him mom comes within touching distance or ceremoniously sits with his back to the instructor to show his contempt for the swimming pool, the Y and wetness in general. Brendan just sits on the side, ignores everyone and splashes his feet.

So that's the game you're going to play, is it? Well, I wasn't having it and came back a second time and gently pushed him into Amy's arms. He clung to her for dear life, but didn't scream like he'd done the week before with me, and even went out a second time. But walk out on his own into waist-deep water? Not on your life.

So later that day at my friend's backyard (swank) pool, he pulled the same routine, but she coaxed him into the unheated hot tub and then proceeded to use the same techniques I'd seen her use three years before on her own daughter (motor boat, motor boat go so slow...), but much more successfully, which I attribute to the fact that they weren't related. (I ski much better and more bravely without my husband. I know it makes no sense, but there must be some truth to the scariness of a situation being related to the nearest relation not doing anything to alleviate that scariness, and duh! what are moms and husbands for anyway?)

So tomorrow, he's promised to walk out with Amy just like the other big kids (except Dexter), and then we'll dine at Chuck E. Cheese and enjoy all the ambiance of the inside of a pinball machine. Promises, promises, I say.

Still, I guess I should be careful what I wish for.

Update: We'll be dining this afternoon at Chuck E. Cheese!



Blogger Elmo said...

One of my jobs in college was at a YWCA pool here in Oklahoma City. I was in charge of the bookends of the swimmings world, the elderly who came in to swim at exactly 6am (Your late Mr Lifeguard!) and the toddlers who just learning to get wet(Splash Splash PEE). I always found it amusing at how some of the kids were born with this instinctive love of the water and others a hysterical terror.

Most of the time I just started with the splashing and getting them to blow bubbles and feel comfortable with the water.. and eventually we would work our way to the actually swimming part. It was a cool job now that I am remembering it.

Oh and as a lifelong soccer player.. You score GOALS in soccer not POINTS! Get it write! Sheesh. :P

12:25 AM  
Blogger Elmo said...

I almost forgot the actual reason I came to comment here. Your mentioning Emma picking daisies and such during the soccer game reminded me of numerous funny stories from my soccer youth. One of the funniest was when I was somewhere around 6 or 7 years old.

My coach was watching the clump of kids that was our team run after the ball way down by the other teams goal, and suddenly he felt a tug on his coaching shorts. Looking down he saw me standing there "I hafta pee", I said as a matter of fact. Of course I was playing goalkeeper at the time and supposed to be standing in front of OUR goal . He wasn't very happy with me. :P

12:33 AM  
Blogger Nancy said...

LOL! Did I write points? That's funny. That reminds me that I watch the Cleveland Cavs score some home runs over the weekend.

Your story about taking a bathroom break during the game is a perfect example of the children's self-centeredness and very funny!

7:31 AM  
Blogger gcotharn said...

Hi Nancy! I cyber met you through Cathy Seipp's blog. I'm glad to see you are still blogging.

Story 1: I watched 5 year old soccer players, stationed near their own goal, build a dirt pile. The scrum of players came towards them. One kid jumped up to join the scrum. The other kid looked at the scrum, thought "nah", and went back to his dirt pile as the scrum passed by towards his goal.

Story 2: my 10 year old son made a baseball baserunning error to end an inning. He ran into the mens room to cry. His maternal grandfather went in to comfort him when my Mom figured out what was going on. Incensed, she marched into the men's room and told him to DRY THOSE TEARS and GET BACK ON THE FIELD. That's my Mom. I was coaching the team at the time, yet was oblivious to all this drama.

3. My brother was coaching a baseball clinic when a 10 year old took a grounder to the face. He was crying a lot, so they let him sit in the bleachers with an ice pack on his face. His Mom, a college basketball coach, showed up to watch the end of practice and saw her son sitting with an ice pack. She went all my Mom on him, demanding he get back on the field THIS VERY MOMENT. Then she turned her wrath on the coaches who allowed him to sit in the bleachers. My brother can describe it as a hilarious scene.

8:19 PM  
Blogger gcotharn said...

A couple more things, in this area:

1. I don't know about girls development, but its preferable to let boys play for fun, without competitive pressure, until about age 10. Many or most boys do not care about competition until about that age.

However: the boy is at the sports practice/game to have fun playing that sport. He is not at that practice/game to have fun playing with bugs, or to chase his friend. He can play with bugs or chase his friend during the rest of his day. He is there to derive his fun from playing the sport, and not from outside agencies.

2. Children's brains cannot perform certain reason functions until about age 14. Therefore, there is nothing wrong with giving children a parental nudge in the correct direction. That is what you are there for. They need you for that.

Given that children's brains cannot yet reason - in many areas - as well as adults' brains, I believe we have gone too far in the direction of "respect children's feelings". We have gone too far in treating children like little adults. Their brains are not ready to make certain decisions. Then need and deserve guidance. Our parental actions need to adjust back towards equilibrium. We have gone too far.

8:34 PM  
Blogger Nancy said...

Hey g, good to hear from you.

That story about your mom cracked me up! She sounds like a tough-y.

3:42 PM  

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