Sports... We're Getting There

My sister was the athlete in our family. I was an OK athlete, but she was a very talented and driven swimmer that blew us all away. So. it made it easy for me to not put in a ton of effort since the title of best athlete was claimed in our house and there was really no competition to begin with. But, I played all kinds of sports... My mom made me try everything and I stuck with a few things for a while. Looking back I can really appreciate that I had the opportunity to learn a foundation for everything.

Now that we're getting closer to the age when kids start getting involved with sports, I'm a little freaked out. W has no interest. He has been in swimming lessons for more than two years and it has been slow going. We did a couple of soccer classes over the last few years that had me spending more time convincing him to cooperate and give it a try than actually participating. We don't play a lot of catch or watch many sports. We enjoy sports, but it's just not really a focus in our house.

So, I didn't sign W up for anything this fall. I asked last spring and he said no. And then he said it again this fall, so I backed off. Now he wants to play soccer, so we're looking toward the spring season. Honestly, I'm thrilled, because I love soccer. But, I've seen some of the kids his age play and they're ACTUALLY ABLE TO PLAY SOCCER. And then I worry that about my good-natured goofball who has a pair of left feet and very little drive. How is that going to come out on a soccer field?

I've never wanted to force my kids into doing anything, but I firmly believe that they have to play a sport for a whole long list of reasons. I just hope that we find the right one for each of them. I want to see them excel, sure. But - more so - I want to see them feel confident and happy and at home with what they're doing.

This post was inspired by Barracuda by Christos Tsiolkas, a novel where former Olympic hopeful Dan destroys his swimming career and his attempt at redemption after prison. Join From Left to Write on September 30th as we discuss Barracuda. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.


My Girl

Having two boys and then a girl gives you a unique perspective on gender and raising kids. My big, healthy, vibrant, deep voiced little girl is a force. She doesn’t back down, is stubborn to complete break down, and leaps into everything with no fear. She literally has NO fear and that in itself is scary, but I try to celebrate it where I can. And there is something so refreshing about a girl just being free and fearless, isn't there?

I’m not into pink, which seems to bother other people more than it bothers me. I never intended to have a pink, bedazzled, tutu-ed little girl. A wears some of the boys’s clothes mixed with some new things and hand-me-downs from friends with girls. She gets excited about dresses, but is equally happy to wear a super hero t-shirt and I don't get any excitement from dressing her up like a doll... So, it's a win for all of us.

I encourage her to play with her brothers, whether it be cars or trains or super heroes. I love hearing her yell “Darth Vader!” while keeping up with the boys during light saber fights. Every now and then she’ll pick up a doll, proclaim it to be her “baby,” give it a hug, and then swiftly throw it to the ground and I see a bit of what could be pre-programmed gender moves coming out.

Will I encourage her to do "girl" things? Yes, in a way. I loved dance lessons, so will want her to give it a try. I equally loved soccer and swimming, so those will be encouraged as well. For me, there is safety in a girl who is taught she is strong and capable. It can't just be when they're little and don't know any better.

There is this idea that little girls explode from their baby chub as a fawn-like ballerina… graceful and quiet and sweet. That’s just not my girl. Nor would I want it to be.

This post was inspired by The Underground Girls of Kabul by journalist Jenny Nordberg, who discovers a secret Afghani practice where girls are dressed and raised as boys. Join From Left to Write on September 16th as we discuss The Underground Girls of Kabul. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.


Teaching Kindness? Netflix Can Help.

Kindness. It's something I really hope we're all trying to teach our children. Not because it's a fad, but because it's the way we should live. We should live with kindness. I try so hard to teach and remind my kids when and how to be kind. But I know it's not just me.

I can try to instill their behavior as deep as possible and tip their moral compass in the right direction, but I know so much more depends on their classmates, friends, and the things they watch and hear around them.

Have you watched The Fox and The Hound as an adult? I put it on for the kids on Netflix. It was a random choice on a night when I just needed something sweet for the kids (love Netflix for this times). I remembered really loving it as a kid, but once I sat down to a room totally silent as their stared at the screen, I realized it is one amazing movie. Heart wrenching and a reminder of what it is to develop early friendships and how they change over the years... I see W's future. He's like the fox. Sweet, committed to his friends, doesn't always get it when social dymanics change... I just hope he always learns to be sweet, but also learns when he needs to defend himself and when he needs to move on. That is one of the hardest things about being a parent -- trusting the world to be good to our babies.

Going back to school, I know that's the best thing I can teach him this year. While his teacher focuses on math and reading, I'll keep focused on keeping him kind - just the way he is now. We won't let kindergarten change that sweet, open smile.

Disclosure: I am a member of the Netflix Stream Team.


8 AM at the Hannemaniacs' House

W has always been musical. He can sing on key, quickly get acquainted with a tune, give it his own twist for a remix. He loves music. It doesn't come from me, mind you. I am not musical, but love that he seems to be so far.

When we moved in the fall we found ourselves with a lot more space and devised a plan to one day get a piano. Little did we know my aunt would be downsizing at the same time and needed a place for my cousin's gorgeous baby grand to live until he is at the point in his life that he's ready to take it back... Perfect timing for all of us. We hired piano movers, found a piano teacher, and W fell in love.

I hate feeling like I'm bragging about my kids... But he's good. It just comes naturally to him. He hears a song on the radio and works on it until he has figured out the tune on the piano. Is it perfect? No. Does it usually just involve his right hand? Yes. Has he only been taking piano lessons for seven months? Yes. Does his teacher get excited when she's here? Yes. And that in itself is exciting.

For now, we've found his thing. Will he be a professional musician? Who knows. Will he even still be playing by the time he gets to high school? Likely, but not for sure. But for now listening to him work a song from inside his brain to a tune on the keys is the best gift. I can't thank my aunt and cousin enough for sharing this gift with us. As someone told me recently... "Whatever he is going to be... He's going to be SOMETHING." And maybe that something might just be a musician.

This post was inspired by 2 A.M. At The Cat’s Pajamas by Marie-Helene Bertino, a novel about hope, love, and music in snow covered streets of Philadelphia. Join From Left to Write on August 28 we discuss 2 A.M. At The Cat’s Pajamas. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.