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Monday, September 16, 2013

High School Soccer Mom: It's Make it or Break it Time

I know I grew up in another time, but the pressure on kids to perform these days is going to create a nation of self-obsessed, self-agonizaing, self destructive disasters. There's Instagram and Selfies (the constant art of photographing yourself and posting it on SnapChat or Facebook, etc., and the endless, endless texting. And that's just for starters.

We are at the beginning of soccer season and my daughter as a freshman made varsity and also a club team. She practices soccer five days a week, three hours a day, plays in high school games twice a week, and in club games and tournaments on weekends. And she's only 14.

And this is all in the first month of high school. Yes I know it takes a fiercely competitive spirit and alot of guts and time and patience and practice to be a great player. But what about just being a girl? What about parties and boys and homework and make-up and putting the darn phone down long enough to let the next text come in before responding to the last one?

My daughter puts so much pressure on herself to be great, that when she's not she gets upset. Really upset. Upset as in on the way home from the club game, which can be an hour or two in the car, if she plays badly she cannot be spoken too. She retreats into that place where she will scream at me if I say one word. So I say nothing. Of course it will all come out later so I just wait. But what a miserable car ride - and enough of the darn country music. Would a little bit of something besides the same 10 whiny twang songs hurt? Really?

And then we have the injuries. Fingers crossed, knock on wood, any other superstition you can think of we've been lucky so far. Around us girls are getting concussed (it's become a verb for goodness sake), and tearing ACLs and just falling down while everyone holds their breath waiting for that girl who got hit hard to get up. The fields don't help either. The rich town fields are gorgeous - turf or manicured lawns. The poor town fields are awful and just waiting for someone to hit that badly mowed dying grass wrong and wham. There goes the season.

I am not a pushy parent - and fortunately this year we have great parents and great girls and great coaches and nice teams with good attitudes. But we've seen plenty of the screamers and the crying and the berating and the terrible awful too. Come on people these are just kids - whatever happened to just go out there and have fun?

I suppose I should be happy that my daughter's world is soccer because those who only do it peripherally or not at all are doing things with boys about which I will not speak. Growing up female has always been hard. Now it's harder. At least competitive sports keeps some sort of a balance in their world. And all those rushing hormones have an outlet other than the boy next door.

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