Posted in Mommyhood

How to get kids involved in team sports… Threaten. Threaten. And threaten.

Last Updated on August 23, 2020 by World's Okayest Mom

I’ve already ruined 5th grade for My Girl.

This has to be some kind of record, since she’s barely started 3rd grade. (I saw “barely” because our first two weeks of school have been virtual. Thank you, Coronavirus.) I also just got her to not be scared of 3rd grade (thank you, Vaccines and Dead Pets). So here we go again.

How did I (with a significant contribution from The Husband) achieve this feat? We told My Girl she needs to participate in an extracurricular activity when she reaches 5th grade.

I know. The horror.

Team Sports – The Husband and I

The Husband and I have a hard time understanding the complete lack of participation from My Girl. We were both very active and very athletic growing up. In fact, during my senior year of high school, I was involved in the following:

  1. Varsity soccer
  2. Varsity swim team, where I was the captain
  3. Lead in the drama club, a rendition of Alice in Wonderland
  4. Editor of the school newspaper, The Cat Connection (such wonderful alliteration)
  5. Church youth group
  6. Part-time job at Sam Goody, the local music store (I really loved Empire Records and wanted to be just like Gina, without the mental breakdown and shaved head, of course.)
  7. Yearbook
  8. Student Council vice president
  9. Travel soccer league
  10. What was I thinking? Better yet, what were my parents thinking? (Probably that I had a car and could drive myself to the above activities and they didn’t care.)

Is art a team sport?

But, I do understand that My Girl may not be athletic. She definitely excels in the arts. Trust me, I get that. This is an adult who spends the majority of her free time pounding on a laptop, trying to drum up readers for a Mommy Blog. This is also a person who took 12 years of piano lessons. So I get it.

If art class could be deemed a team sport, we would probably be ok. My Girl spends an inordinate amount of time drawing, coloring and painting. This is not a talent she received from me. I’m drawing stick figures. She’s drawing this:

She may be no good with a basketball, but she can handle a pen. Is art a team sport?

And My Girl isn’t completely uninvolved. She’s been taking piano/voice lessons (or as she used to call them “microphone lessons”) since kindergarten. She started horseback riding lessons about a year and a half ago. She has aspirations of jumping fences and rounding barrels in horse shows. I would prefer her to utilize the music lessons ala Lea Michele rather than the horseback skills ala Bonnie Blue Eyes in Gone With the Wind.

But beggars and choosers.

So, she’s active but she’s not what you would call a team player.

Blame her only childness.

Blame her strong will.

Blame her complete and utter lack of regard when it comes to listening or following directions.

Please don’t blame me. Though I’m sure My Girl will in her future therapy sessions.

Our efforts in finding the right team sport

So in an effort to keep that psychiatrist bill to a minimum when she hits her 30s, and in an effort to raise a child who can be part of a team and not be an independent ass hole, The Husband and I came up with the rule that she will participate in something team-oriented in two years.

Actually, it was The Husband’s rule. I’ll just end up enforcing it. C’est la vie.

This isn’t the first time we’ve tried to encourage her to branch out beyond solo activities.

The Husband and I tried urging her into sports. Between the two of us, we racked up 17 varsity letters in high school. So yeah, we were athletic. How is our child not athletic? I would blame that nurture versus nature thing (Us – 0; Adoption – 1), but Monica played soccer in college and Jane is… ahem… not athletic either. Maybe it’s something in the water…

Soccer – no interest at all. This was my sport, so it breaks my heart just a little bit. (Just a little because soccer is one of those great sports that makes you play in the heat that rivals the Sahara and the snow that can make Minnesota jealous – all in one season.)

Swimming – maybe. My Girl loves it, swims wonderfully (benefits of momma being swim team captain and growing up with a pool), but when I suggest swim team, she wrinkles her nose. It’s the team part of that suggestion that does it.

Basketball – we thought this was our best bet. The Husband and I both played and love it. Jane played last year and didn’t hate it. My Girl likes to play in the drive-way. But still a no.

I enrolled her in dance class – acro dance to be specific – when she was just a tyke. My reasons were partly because I wanted her involved (though I didn’t realize at the time what a free and independent thinker she would turn out to be). My main motivation was that my wonderful Mother-in-Law paid the bill and covered transportation, and because My Girl looked too damn adorable in her recital outfit.

See? Too damned adorable.

Dance lasted about a year and a half. I was jaded by the entire activity after the first dance recital (read about what I called a great social experiment with children in tutus here) and because taking My Girl and keeping her engaged was like a white belt fighting Jackie Chan. In one of my better moments of mothering clarity, I realized it wasn’t worth the struggle. So, goodbye dance class.

And speaking of karate – I tried using that as an incentive once too. She seemed to have a real interest in chopping a board in half with her bare hands when she started kindergarten. (I’m not sure what that says about My Girl. Nothing good, I’m sure.) But she turned her interest to horseback riding instead.

Putting my half-heart into finding a team sport

I’m sure part of her lack of team sports is my fault. I can’t say I look forward to night after night of basketball practice or soccer practice or whatever she chooses. I guard our free nights like a momma goose guarding her babies. (We live on a lake with a plethora of mean geese, so bear with me.) I snap aggressively when someone or something starts to get too close to our free time.

Maybe when My Girl becomes a snobby, know-it-all who is too good to play Ticket to Ride with her parents in the evenings (i.e. a teenager), I’ll feel differently about rushing home from work to see my family. But right now, she runs with wide open arms to greet me at the door, and I look forward to seeing her and listening to her talk nonstop from 6 p.m. until bedtime.

So fighting the good fight to get her to play t-ball four nights a week in 90 degree heat has not been stance I’m willing to take. That’s not the Alamo I’m going to fight for.

But The Husband and I keep – half-heartedly – trying to find her a team activity.

Guns and frilly dresses

We found out this spring that My Girl is a crack shot with a gun. Yes. You read that correctly. My 8YO is surprisingly accurate when The Husband put a deadly weapon into her hands. Judge him. Not me.

Most people hear that and think ‘dangerous.’ I hear that and think ‘cha-ching.’ There can’t be many girls wearing Easter dresses on a random Thursday afternoon who have the potential to be a sharp shooter. There has got to be some obscure college that will give her a full-ride scholarship to join their sharp-shooter team. It’s probably in Mississippi, but free college is free college.

So that can be our back-up.

Oh the drama club

But after our conversation with My Girl the other night – the one where we’ve terrified her of fifth grade – we realized that drama club is probably her calling.

As you may recall, I’m depending on My Girl to introduce me to Lin-Manuel Miranda, so I’m a big fan of this plan. (If you don’t recall, you can read about it here.)

My Girl has always had a desire for the stage. We started taking her to shows at our local theatre (Wagon Wheel) at a pretty young age. She quickly fell in love with the stage – and disturbingly enough, the Cat in the Hat – when we saw a production of Seussical the Musical.

My Girl had a weird crush on this character. I can’t explain it. Or her. But maybe it will entice her into drama club.

At that time, I tried getting her interest in a life on the stage.

Me: “Would you like to be on that stage someday?”

My Girl: “Yes! Where everyone would watch me?”

Me: “Yes! We can sign you up for acting classes.”

My Girl: “Is someone going to tell me what to do?”

Me: “Yes. That person is called the director.”

My Girl: “Nevermind then.”

That sounds about right. It’s not the lack of interest in athletics; it’s not laziness; it’s not the dislike of teams.

It’s that My Girl doesn’t want to be told what to do.

I guess it’s nice to have an answer. But that doesn’t much help with my fear of her turning into a jerk who refuses to work with anyone in her adult years.

Share your own imperfections.