This morning, in frigid temperatures and with winds gusting through my carefully chosen layers, I watched my 5 year old daughter play soccer. As my fingers lost sensation and my core temperature dropped, I was able to maintain focus on one thing: my daughter is a tough customer.
My experience with this child is that, while she has no problem defying me or engaging in physical horseplay with her older brother, she is sometimes loathe to engage assertively with her peers. The child I watched on the soccer field this morning exhibited no lack of assertiveness at all. Rather, she seemed quite comfortable engaging other children, going after the ball and running it up the field. So, she’s 5, why do I care?
Soccer is a lot like life. Go ahead, snicker. I know what you think. I’m a helicopter soccer mom who wants to live vicariously through my kids’ athletic accomplishments. You couldn’t be more wrong. What I mean is that, in soccer, as in life, if you want the ball, you have to take it. If you don’t take it, someone else will. There is always another player waiting to touch the ball. Sometimes it’s someone from your team who will eventually pass the ball back to you, and sometimes it’s someone from the opposing team who will exploit the opportunity and score against you. Watching my little girl challenge bigger boys was so reassuring. Just knowing that she refuses to allow herself to be intimidated by their gender or size is a comfort. It gives me hope that she might always be the kind of person who can stand up for herself.
She starts kindergarten next year. She’ll be straddling the cozy comfort of preschool and the harsh realities of elementary school. I’ve found myself doing a fair bit of hand wringing in anticipation of the transition. She still feels like my baby and I have some anxiety at the thought of sending her out into the world. I have to say though, watching her navigate the soccer field gave me a whole new outlook today. This child does OK for herself and when push comes to shove (literally), she can find a way to get what she wants (needs).