Rooting for Your Kids. And Sometimes, NOT Rooting for Your Kids.


I’ve been in a good mood for the past few days, and the major reason behind my increased good cheer is I’ve started rooting for M.

I know what you’re thinking: weren’t you always rooting for your firstborn daughter? Well, usually, yes. But lately? Not so much. Not necessarily. Not entirely.

And if that sounds terrible, well, I’m not alone. In fact Cute W and I were chatting about this with a bunch of parents just yesterday. We were at an all-day volleyball tournament. As it turns out,  J’s team didn’t make it to the finals, but they won more games than they lost and they absolutely played better than they had at their first tournament. Plus we are starting to get to know all of the girls and their parents better, so that’s fun. But for a while we weren’t sure about how things would end up, and parents were talking about sports tournaments in general. Because the thing about tournaments is that the better you do, the longer they go on. So if you’re a parent who’s squeezing in time to see all of your kids’ games before heading out on a must-go business trip, then if your kid doesn’t do so well, you were there for all of your kids games, just like you’d hoped. But if your child’s team is successful, now you’re forced to run out on the most important part of the whole event. Or sometimes, depending on what else is happening with the other teams, you end up at a single game where there are three possible next steps: your kid’s team loses and you get to start your drive home early, your kids’ team wins by a lot and gets to play in the championship, or your kid’s team wins by just enough that you’re forced to hang out for two or three hours waiting to see how everyone else’s games end, which means you could just be hanging out for hours before a long ride home with a disappointed child who didn’t make the finals, after all. So there are definitely times when you’re watching a game and you’re a little torn about whether you’d prefer a win or a loss.

I’ve mentioned that M decided to do indoor track “for fun.”  This was a surprise to me, and when she first mentioned doing it, she explained that she’d been talking about doing it with friends, and they’d explained that indoor track has a very short season and that it tends to be pretty laid back because it’s kind of just a way to stay in shape between Cross County (which she was not planning to do because of soccer) and Spring Track (which she was not planning to do because of Unified Basketball). There were a few meets that she’d go to, but many of the later meets were just if you qualified, and she probably wouldn’t qualify, so she’d likely be done by mid-January or so. Okay, I said. Sounds good, I said. It’s about time you tried running since you’re a naturally fast runner, I didn’t say. It sure will look good on those college applications, I didn’t say.

Well, it didn’t take us too long to realize that her friends had perhaps over-emphasized the relaxed, easygoing nature of Indoor Track. Some practices turned out to be pretty tough, especially when M had to follow them up with a 90-minute soccer practice. I was worried that she might have to bail out. But M said she could handle it. And then those first meets went really well, and instead of having the short season we’d all been expecting, M was invited to go to an out-of-town meet that meant skipping a day of school and spending the night with the team at a hotel. She was psyched. What was really striking was how different her experience was with school track vs. school soccer. She had trained like crazy for soccer, and then she didn’t make varsity. Meanwhile at track she basically just showed up and was immediately put on the fast track as a potential future star. Getting picked for something special was a healing balm for her school sports experience, I think, even if she wouldn’t necessarily describe it that way. So that was great.

And then, once we realized that her season was going to stretch out, all hell broke loose with our calendar. There was a Very Important Meet that was smack-dab in the middle of travel plans that we’d made. There was another Very Important Meet that was scheduled for the same weekend as a soccer tournament for which we’d already booked a hotel and confirmed with her soccer coach. And there was, suddenly, the looming choice of whether she should quit the Unified Basketball team that she’d loved so much last year in order to continue into Spring Track. Combined, all of it made a little part of me wish that she weren’t having quite so much success. Which is a crappy thing to wish. And Cute W and I told ourselves repeatedly that having a kid who’s good at more than one thing is a wonderful, fortunate dilemma with which to struggle. Still, we were stressed about what she should be doing, and what she may have to give up.

And now, possibly because M’s life is just charmed like that, things have resolved themselves. With a bit of shuffling, the help of friends, and the okay from her coach, we’re sending M home from our trip early so that she can join us for part of it and still make it to her meet. The other meet is still only a tentative plan, but if she does participate, it will be on a Friday, so she’ll still be able to play soccer at her tournament, which will be Saturday and Sunday. And her wonderful, wonderful Unified Basketball coach has told her that they’ll work something out sothat she can participate in both spring sports.

And you know what that means, right? I am no longer conflicted, and I can wholeheartedly root for her to run very, very fast.




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