Let the Competition Begin
So two years ago, we signed Big Sister up for soccer. I was excited, I admit it. I played soccer and I wasn’t very good, but I did love it and I had some high hopes for my kids. Basically, Big Sister playing soccer? It was an exercise in humility…for me. She really enjoyed soccer. She enjoyed being filmed on the video camera. She enjoyed running around. She enjoyed talking to other little girls about…I don’t know…ponies? But she had no idea there was an actual game going on. I’ll never forget hollering from the sideline, “Go get the ball!” And her looking at me grinning and saying, “Where is it?”
We didn’t sign up again.
But now Big Sister has found her thing. Her school has a wonderful fine arts program and she loves trying out for and performing in the school plays. She’s done really well actually. She also discovered she loves basketball. Total shock. She is a lefty and appears to be more of an eye/hand-coordination-sport-type girl. She has a sweet little shot.
But now, Little Sister is 5 years old. And she has wanted to play soccer forever. We decided to sign her up for the local Upwards soccer program where, much to our dismay, “everybody wins”, but it was cheaper than city soccer and while we suspected she would like it much more than Big Sister, we weren’t taking any chances. They had two days last week where you could come by the church, register your child, pay your fee, and have them evaluated. Each child has to go through 4 drills to determine their skill level so the teams will be evenly formed. Whatever. Anyway, so we take Little Sister to sign up and she’s super excited. As we stood in line, someone asked Big Sister if she was playing, to which she responded, “No, I played before and I was horrible.” I immediately attempted to regain my status as competent mom by assuring her, “You weren’t horrible, you just didn’t like it very much.” Between you and me, she didn’t like it very much which translated to “she was horrible”. But you don’t say that to a seven-year-old.
When it’s finally our turn, Little Sister is ready. She does amazing in the first three drills, and then there’s the fourth, dribbling around cones. Well, you can imagine. The ball gets away from her and after getting around the first cone, it passes the next two and they holler, “Just bring it straight back!” She gives it a good hard kick which makes them think, “She’s having fun!” and makes me think, “Oh gosh, she’s pissed.” They smile big at her and say, “Good job,” and she just turns her back and runs toward me, barely holding in her tears. She cries the rest of the way home that she didn’t want to do a “good job”, she wanted to do a “great job”. She just cannot get over that she wasn’t perfect. Big Sister and I encouraged her as much as possible, but she is just as determined in her pouting as she is in her soccer performance. She is perfect when it comes to the pouting, let me tell you.
An unexpected thing happened in the midst of all this drama. Big Sister decided she wanted to give soccer another go ‘round. I had my doubts. After all, I had seen her play soccer before. I asked her to sleep on it as they had one more day of evaluations and I wasn’t ABOUT to get back at the end of the line. I also asked her to talk to Daddy about it and if, in the morning, she still wanted to play, I would bring her to the evaluation. I really did encourage her to try again; I didn’t want her settling for believing she was horrible. I wanted her to fight for it and try, try again…but I was concerned about Little Sister. She was already in full-on competitive mode.
We arrived early the next day and while we waited our turn, Little Sister whined over and over that she wanted to do it again. I braced myself for the Chrysler Town & Country counseling session I knew we’d have on the way home.
I need to add a side note here…
Big Sister has a tender heart. She weeps when we sing at church. Weeps. The girls recently went to my mother-in-law’s house while we had date night and they came home with one of Nana’s stuffed bunnies. When you squeeze the bunny, it plays Jesus Loves Me. A couple of nights ago, Big Sister came to me in tears saying, “You know how I’m kind of sensitive? And when I hear songs about Jesus it makes me so happy I cry? Little Sister keeps squeezing that bunny and it’s making me cry. Please make her stop!” My response was, “Oh honey, it’s so sweet that you love Jesus so much that the song makes you cry. Don’t worry about that. That’s a good thing.” Her answer? “But Mama! I don’t want to be crying all the time!”
Back to soccer, Little Sister had the bunny in tow when we went to Big Sister’s evaluation. Maybe you can see what’s coming, so here’s what happened. Big Sister shocked everyone, especially me, and did AMAZING! I’m not one of those parents, I swear. I’m married to a coach for Heaven’s sake and we know about those parents. But after the running drill, the guy who timed her came over and said, “Is she your daughter? She was really fast!” I about fainted. Those are words that have never been spoken about Big Sister before. I have sat in the car too many times to count, waiting for her to get her coat and shoes on, to ever think about her being “fast”. Anyway, she did great and then came that dreaded last drill, dribbling around the cones. She is a thinker and she took her time. She navigated the cones perfectly and came running off…all smiles.
“Mama!” she said, “That man said I ran really fast!” “I know!” I said, hugging her and smiling ear to ear. As we walked away, I noticed Little Sister lagged behind. She had her arms crossed and that bunny tucked firmly under her armpit. It was quite the dilemma, encouraging Big Sister quietly so that Little Sister wouldn’t get madder. Okay, I’m running out of steam so let me just say…Little Sister squeezed that bunny ALL THE WAY HOME in an effort to make Big Sister cry. And of course she herself cried at the top of her lungs. I was torn between laughing and crying. I tried my best and said, “Honey, she’s two years older than you.” To which she replied, “But I don’t want her to be older than me.” Hmmmm. Should be an interesting Spring.