Riley and Davis at Silver Dollar City

Riley and Davis at Silver Dollar City

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Independence Day thoughts

I love the Fourth of July. I enjoy the sun, the outside time, the universal sense of relaxation. I like fireworks too. But this year's wet and cold weather gave me time to think.

Maybe it is the election year, but it feels like not everyone who is blessed to be American is loving America right now. So often we hear or see the phrase, "Land of the free, because of the brave". And it is true that we are fortunate to still have men and women willing to serve and protect.  It is also often voiced that we are a free country because of our constitution. But that's not correct. We are a free country because we have never allowed ourselves to be governed by the thoughts and ideals, or physical presence, of someone else. When our forefathers first took up arms, there was no Constitution. They didn't have to constantly have to hear about one person telling another person that they feel oppressed because someone said they shouldn't have this gun or that gun, and someone else didn't go running to the nearest newspaper crying that their right to free speech was infringed by their neighbor.  Whatever someone's political views, I struggle most with people who aren't thankful to be Americans. Can you imagine if we were invaded by another country and forced to adopt their governing style? There would be op-ed pieces popping up all over telling us that at least it wasn't a Democrat/Republican/Libertarian. Some 24 hour news channel would pop-up telling us how great our new ruling body was, and so many people would blindly follow it those who weren't fooled wouldn't be able to stand up the new government.

No matter our faults as a country, it would be really nice for people to be proud they are Americans. No matter our political beliefs, it would be really nice for people to be civil to one another.
No matter our paper laws, it would be really nice for people to do the right thing because they are guided by morality and kindness, rather than fear of consequences.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Kids new approach

A few days ago I ran into a former coach, just a chance meeting, but we had time to have a conversation with each other rather than a passing hello. And since then, something she said has stuck with me and given me reason to think on it.

She said "Boys play sports to feel good and girls have to feel good to play sports".

To feel the best about themselves they have entirely different needs. And it is so true. At least it is in the small sample size in my home. When Riley is feeling good, feeling supported and loved and encouraged, she is capable of playing sports beyond her baseline capability. Davis feels better about playing the more he plays; anything that happened prior to that doesn't impact his outcomes.

This theory caused me to think back on when I was most successful in sports. I was at my best when I was surrounded by positive people who I knew believed in me. Coaches, teammates, other families. When we were all able to feel good about what we were doing, we felt good and we played well. Even if we weren't always winning.

I adopted the habit of telling Riley after every game or practice, "I am really proud of you, I love watching you play". End of conversation. I will occasionally add, that if she has any questions or wants to talk more about a game or theory of the game, I am glad to listen. And sometimes she will open up and want to talk about it, others she make think on for days before she is ready to talk. I know that since I have started this she and I have a better relationship and she has more positive feelings about sports.

I think that sports are especially important for girls. It promotes more positive body image (something that is critical in those difficult developmental years), it encourages leadership skills, it teaches discipline and focus.

Davis isn't very far into his explorations of sports, but he is already completely different to work with than his sister. I have been operating under the assumption that it is because they have different personalities. But what if it is deeper than that. What if it is truly a different brain chemistry that is satisfied by playing sports?

I believe that once we know better, we are obligated to do better. I now know better how to support my kids as athletes, and especially my daughter, so now I have to do better.

I hope that we have the chance to work with coaches who are willing to understand the psychology of working with young athletes and are willing to differentiate the needs of various people to help them feel their best and perform their best.

Each year of being around youth sports makes me feel so naive. I very much want to believe that their are people involved in youth sports who want the best for every child on their teams and who want to find the key to success for everyone.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Finding my writing groove

A big part of wanting to blog again, is that I realized that writing matters to me. I like writing. It makes me feel good. It used to at least. I am having a hard time getting a groove. I don't like the way my writing sounds anymore. So, I am going to write my way out of it. I am going to write something in this space everyday. And eventually I'll find the voice that I am missing. Hopefully.

When my kids were little and I ended each day drained from feeling like I had given myself to them fully, I thought that there was no way that any other phase of life could be that difficult. And then my kids grew. And I no longer need to carry them from place to place or cut their food into bits, or even give them a bath. Instead I have to help them learn what genuine friendship looks like and how to know what sacrifices are most beneficial, even learning how to cope with the results of making a decision that didn't work out. I know that the hard years of social media, and driving and academic rigor are ahead.

I hope to focus on showing them what real friendship is by modeling that behavior, by having conversations about the difference in friends and acquaintances and how I vary what I share with each. I hope that by letting them be a part of the big decisions we make, I can minimize the fallout from poor decision making, and if I can't that I can show them how to bounce once you have made a mistake.