My daughter, Karisa, is an entire year younger than her classmates. Because of this we she has always played a year up in softball in order to be on the same playing level as those she will be competing with at school.
She is a great ball player but her size and quiet nature (on the field) often gets her overlooked. Her skills have been enough for her to make the competitive team but she ends up with minimal playing time.
This year when we signed her up for little league we decided to keep her down with girls her own age. I was hoping by being one of the older, more experienced girls on the team she would get more playing time thus building her confidence. My plan backfired.
She was placed on a team with a coach who had no interest in coaching. I have tried very hard this year not to complain publicly. I understand that coaches are volunteers etc but this season was really ridiculous.
They had a total of three practices the entire season spanning from August until May and they were not beneficial at all. I have three kids whose schedules overlap so I can’t commit to coaching. I did volunteer to arrange the snack schedule and arrange two separate outings to the batting cages. It’s not like I sat around and complained and did nothing to try and help the situation because I didn’t want to be THAT parent.
It was hard to watch the girls play. The majority were first year Majors players and they had no idea what they were doing or the rules and well, neither did the coach. There was no rhyme or reason for where and when he played the girls. Unless my daughter was pitching it was a crap shoot where and if she would play. Regardless, my daughter still seemed to be having fun on the field and I convinced myself that is what mattered.
When we received the e-mail announcing All-Star try-outs I asked if she wanted to try-out and she said, “No!” I was dumbfounded. She loves softball. She was one of the best girls out there this year. I asked a few questions and she just shrugged her shoulders and said I just don’t want to.
I didn’t want to be the mom to force my kid to try-out because I think she should so I dropped it. The first try-out went by without her on the field. I received a text from a parent questioning why Karisa was not out there and informing us there would be another try-out.
I decided to probe a little more. It turns out this coach and this season really did a number on her confidence. I told her not to let anyone get in the way of doing what she loves. I wanted her to know not to go after something because she is scared of failing. I wanted her to believe in herself. I held her in my arms and told her the decision was still hers.
Being a parent is not an easy task. I was really conflicted about asking my daughter a second time about trying out. I didn’t want her to feel pressured to try-out only to please me. At the same time I didn’t want her to miss out on this amazing opportunity.
I strongly believe parent should not live vicariously through their kids. However giving our kids a push is not always the same thing. Kids need to be challenged. Parents need to make sure their child is standing firm in their own beliefs. Sometimes we need to hold their hand and tell them it is okay to say no and sometime it is okay to be scared but do it anyway
In the end it was my gut feeling that led me to ask again and question her reasoning. I know my daughter. I know how much softball means to her and how much she loves to play.
Before I left her room I asked her to spend some time and pray about it. I made it clear this would be the last time I asked her about it, for real this time. If she wanted to try-out I would be happy to take her but she needed to want it.
After a while she came out of her room and asked if I could wash her uniform. She went to two try-outs and shined like the star she is. She walked off that field each night with a smile on her face saying “Did you see me hit the ball to the outfield?”, “Did you see me make that catch?”, “I don‘t know what happened on that throw it left my hand weird.”, “That was fun.”
We received official confirmation today that she made the All-Star team.