Barefoot in High Heels

Did Mia Hamm Start Out This Way?

Posted on: June 22, 2009

Our first organized team-sport season ended.

Three- and four-year-old soccer.   Otherwise known as a pack of preschoolers chasing a ball, without regard to which direction they’re headed.

For 6 practices and games, there was at least one poor child (usually mine) crying at some point or another.   The first few weeks for Miss M, it was almost torturous (for her AND us).  She would barely move out on that field, and she’d stand there in her pigtails and soccer uniform and cry.  It was always a different reason.  “My tongue hurts” or “my cousin tackled me” or “My nose is running” or “I’m cold” or “I don’t know how to kick the ball” or “I can’t run as fast as the other kids.”

Now some parents might coddle their little ones, take them home early, or at least let them sit on the sidelines for a while.   There were certainly many of those kind who didn’t show up after the first couple of games, not wanting to bother with 3-year-old drama. 

And then there were the other parents, forcing the preschoolers out for more torture.

Yep.  That was me.   But really, it wasn’t demanding and mean like it sounds.    Really!

Little Miss M had so much fun the last two or three games.  You know why?  Because we made her go every week and get out there and play.  She is shy, hesitant, cautious, and slow to warm up to new situations.  And with 10 other screaming kids, and multiple parents and grandparents as spectators yelling “Kick the ball!  Run!  No — the OTHER way!” it was too much commotion for her.   She got over that hesitancy by the end and even looked as if she were actually enjoying herself.  She even kicked the ball a few times during the game!

I’m not sure that she’ll play again — we’ll see if she wants to in the fall.  But by forcing (or shall I say gently guiding) her — yes, even at 3 1/2 years old — to try new situations, she’ll build her self-confidence and learn how to better adapt to unfamiliar activities.    All we kept telling her was that as long as she tried her best we’d be very proud — she didn’t need to be the fastest runner or score any goals.   And you know what?  She wasn’t, and she didn’t.   But by the end, she tried, she had fun, and she’s so proud of her certificate and her team picture.

And so are we.

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