Soccer girl

I have loved watching Ri out on the soccer field. She had practice on Saturday morning. I was supposed to be in a meeting but I called into it instead because I wanted to watch her play. She likes being goalie (just a hunch why – less running). I think she will be really good at that position because she’s not scared of the ball and she’s strong. She did really good at practice.
The girls had their first game yesterday. Holy cow, I was so nervous for her. She’s never played soccer in her life and had only had three practices. I didn’t want her to get in the game and get discouraged if she missed a ball in goal or didn’t kick the ball well down the field. Mama Bear.
She didn’t go in at the start. One of her friends, Gabby, started in goalie. Gabby’s been playing for three years. She knows where to position herself and how to kick the ball to one of our players. She stopped some good kicks. The other team had some tall girls on it. Two in particular barreled down the field most of the game. We played a lot of defense.
Ri got put in for the second twelve minutes of the quarter. I paced up and down the line with my mom who was just as nervous. Jon was able to stay quietly in his seat. How?! The play started and the two tall girls flew toward Ri. There was a mass of our defenders tangling with the girls. Ri didn’t quite know where to place herself. She stood ten feet from the goal post trying to help the defenders when one of the tall girls broke free and kicked it into the goal. My heart sank. My mom sighed. A few minutes later, one of the tall girls sank another one in the net – this time Ri was there but it was hit hard. I cringed. My mom cried “oh no.” Ri looked upset. She wouldn’t respond when I cheered for her.
She made it through the twelve minutes and walked off the field as the whistle blew. She wouldn’t look at me.
You listen here. You tried your hardest out there. This was your first time as goalie and you didn’t give up! You need to be proud of yourself and tell yourself you did your best. You hear me?”
She nodded. Another mom came up to her and said nearly the same thing. She smiled. She went in two more times as goalie without flinching at the thought. A few went by her but she also snagged a few. And she had some strong kicks from the goal to her teammates. All my nails were bitten to the core when the final whistle blew but I survived. And Ri flourished.
She walked away with a smile on her face (the post-game snack and the camaraderie of her friends helped, I’m sure). I was so proud of her for not giving up and not freaking out. She could have easily cried out on the field when the second goal was scored on her but she shook it off and kept playing. And she could have refused to play goalie again. But she continued.
On the way home, I told her again and again how much I admired her determination and perseverance. I was so proud of her. She nodded and looked out the window of the car but I know she heard me.
It is such a joy to be her mom.
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Smart talk

Yet another article confirming that I have sent my daughter down a path of failure. I thought I was doing well by praising Ri as being smart when she correctly completed a math problem but apparently I’m setting her up to head straight to trucking school after 12th grade.
My research shows that praise for intelligence or ability backfires,” said Dweck, who co-authored a seminal research paper on the effects of praise on motivation and performance. “What we’ve shown is that when you praise someone, say, ‘You’re smart at this,’ the next time they struggle, they think they’re not. It’s really about praising the process they engage in, not how smart they are or how good they are at it, but taking on difficulty, trying many different strategies, sticking to it and achieving over time.
The researcher continues to say that not only is telling our daughters they are smart unproductive, but it actually may be harmful to their development.

Sweet Jesus.

Here I was thinking that I was a superstar because I was commenting on Ri’s brains and not her beauty but not quite….

I appreciate these studies in order for us to learn more about how to raise our girls to be confident and excel but damn if they don’t make me second guess everything before talking to Ri.

But, alas, change and growth and questioning are a part of life so I guess I need to keep reading these studies and shifting my praise accordingly (oh, how my grandma would be shaking her head at all the analysis we engage in as parents in 2014!).

Tonight, Ri told me that she completed 91 subtraction problems in five minutes when she had only completed 78 two nights ago. I replied “You are my smart girl!” But then I caught myself and quickly replied: “You worked so hard to raise the number you could complete and never gave up – great job!” So who knows where that mixed message will take her.

In the end, I think she will be just fine. After all, does she look like she lacks confidence?!

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Determined to bike (and be near family).

My boy didn’t give up all day Sunday. He sat on his two-wheeled bike, adjusted the pedal so that it was at the northern-most direction, placed his foot on it and rode until the pedal went a half of a turn to the southern-most direction; and then threw both his feet down on the ground to stop himself.

He started the process again. And again. And again.

Every time Jon and I would try to hold the back of his bike to give him a little push to get him started, he would berate us and push our hands away.

“I can do it myself!”

He’s a determined little sucker. He wants to accomplish things on his own. But he also wants you to watch his every move while he works on them. And if you don’t, he lets you know. At football on Saturday, I coached Mario after a play he made telling him to make sure to run after the ball. He darted over to me on the sidelines and yelled “you weren’t even watching me, mom, so don’t talk to me because I don’t have to listen to you!” (I had been listening to Maria read me a book during his play and had not had my undivided attention on him).

A tad bull-headed.

But being bull-headed has its positive side. Mario was not going to let Monday roll around until he could pedal a few turns without falling. Jon and I took turns watching him start and stop and start and stop and start…. Maria tried to coach him, too, instructing him to get a running start before putting his feet on the pedals. He actually listened to her and tried it but clearly felt like that move was a little too risky for him.

Nonetheless, by the time we went inside Sunday evening, he was able to pedal three or four turns before falling to one side. On Monday evening, he was able to go up or down the driveway before screeching to a halt. Jon and I watched with pride and amazement as he biked from the mid-point of the drive to the end. We cheered and roared as though he won the Olympics.

Tonight, he biked on the sidewalk of our street. He cranked out three or four house lengths before rolling into the grass and starting over. Incredible. Just last week Maria complained about Mario never wanting to try the two-wheeled bike and Mario was adamant that he would not give into her complaints. He had no desire to ride a bike sans training wheels. But something or someone changed his mind on Sunday and now there is no turning back.

Yet another milestone achieved. A milestone that pushes him towards independence and self-sufficiency. After all, once you can bike, you can go anywhere (isn’t that a Dr. Seuss rhyme?!).

Why is it that the mind understands that these babies of ours need to grow up but the heart so desperately wants to keep them young?

I stood and watched his tiny determined face as he situated the pedals just right and took off down the sidewalk. My little munch was not so little any longer. Five years old and riding a bike and playing football and operating a computer. He’s set.

I can only imagine the short amount of time it will take before he begins begging to ride to the next street over, then the next, and then even further away. But for now I will soak in his response when I told him that he was an official two-wheeled bike rider:

“This is great mom. Now the whole family can ride two-wheeled bikes together.”

Always thinking of his family – my sweet biking son.

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