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The Tears of Back to School

I love summer.  There are so many reasons why I love summer.  I could talk days about the better weather, I love to be outdoors, flexibility, the beauty, fun water activities, late nights, late mornings and easy school.

Easy school? Yes, I home school. Summer though, had some math, reading, six weeks of more “fun” lessons and projects then came camps.  When the kids had week after week of camps we eliminated the formal lessons and just stuck to chores, math and reading.  It was easy.  It was flexible.  It was less intensive for me!

Last year was the first year of home schooling a 3rd grader and a 1st grader.  It was a huge adjustment.  A lot of tears and frustration, but definitely fun also.  I liked knowing exactly what they were doing and what kind of instruction they were getting.  They also enjoyed it as well.

This year enters my kindergarten child.  She is more rambunctious than most and more of an “independent thinker” than my others… if you know what I mean.  Yesterday was the first day of “fall school” and it was miserable.

I lost my cool, there were tears from the kids and my youngest had some major chore duty yesterday because she just wouldn’t be respectful….

So…NOT how I pictured my first day back going.  I rarely have days where I am “done” and need time to myself, but yesterday was one of them.  I was spent, it was over, I was mad and grumpy.  (However, for the first time in 12 years I was able to relay that I had a sucky day, I wanted to be left alone and was probably grumpy- without getting mad at him for whatever…so that was a plus)

Anyway, new day….

Today is day 2.

Here we go…

Easiest Way to Get Your Child Swimming

I had 3 kids in 3 years.  Life was crazy, chaotic and unpredictable.

My older kids at the time were almost 5 and 4 when we tried to put them in swimming lessons.  They were terrified of getting bath water in their eyes, so we thought swimming lessons would help.  Plus, everyone ELSE put their 4 and 5 yr olds in swimming lessons.

It was a nightmare.  Sneezy, my 4 yr old threw a fit and wouldn’t get in the pool.  Bashful, my 5 yr old did better, but was still terrified to put his head under.  I sat on the side with my 4 yr old while keeping my 2 yr old, Grumpy, out of the water!

Time went on and my husband and I became anti lessons.  It seemed silly to put our kids in lessons when they wouldn’t get their face wet!

My husband started looking up pools online. He found that Walmart has a stand up pool that was 3 feet deep and required minimal maintenance and chemicals.  We spent $47 on the pool and probably another $50 in chemicals and supplies like a cover, and bug catcher thingy.

pool2

We bought our first one in 2014.  During that summer my older two kids Bashful and Sneezy ended up becoming comfortable putting their heads under water!  They were doing half head stands and half flips by the end of 2014.  However, the youngest, Grumpy, was finally happy to get in as long as she had a floatie (even though she could touch just fine) or a noodle to hang onto.

Fast forward one year to 2015.  We bought another pool (because for $50 it wasn’t worth it to keep, clean and dry out the previous one) and had left over chemicals and supplies from the year before.

pool1

Same pool same set up.

Bashful and Sneezy were hesitant at first to get in all the way, and Grumpy was in no way going to get in.  As the first 2 weeks of the hot summer drug on, the older two regained their water confidence and were quickly back to flipping and getting completely wet.  Grumpy was still hesitant, granted, she was just 4 still.

One day, Sneezy’s friend came over.  She had taken swimming lessons and took it upon herself to teach Grumpy to go under water.  Within 20 minutes, Grumpy was able and comfortable to go under water!!!!

The next week we bought a water park pass and spent most of the time at the water park.  The older kids took a brief 2 week swimming lesson, but were the most proficient kids in their class…. good thing we paid for those lessons at ages 4 and 5.

This year, we bought another pool pass.  All of my kids are now able to go on the water slides, even 5 yr old GRUMPY (she’s really tall for her age) who has never had an official swimming lesson.

pool4
Grumpy excited to be big and swimming!

 

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Now, Grumpy isn’t deep-end certified yet.  But Sneezy and Bashful, all on their own, decided they could swim in the deep end last year.  So since then, they enjoy completing the blow up obstacle course and play  for hours on the diving board!  This summer it is a goal to get Grumpy comfortable in the deep end.

So if you need your kids to get comfortable with the water, have room in your back yard, an extra $100, and are willing to put in some work to take care of something, get the small $50 pool from Walmart!!!  In total we spent $150-$200 (I doubt we even came close to $200) and were able to go from 3 kids being petrified of water in their faces and holding their breath, to 3 kids swimming comfortably all while this mama can relax in a lounge chair and watch the fun!

Club Sports…. a Kill Joy?

I have a son, Bashful, who is 8.  He is finishing 3rd grade this year.  He is a nice boy.  Not too aggressive, but loves to run.  He is competitive but not enough to make other kids uncomfortable.  He also doesn’t like to push past being tired or uncomfortable.  Bashful is obedient and literal.  If you say you do this don’t do this he will obey.  You say stay in this box, he will stay.

He started playing soccer with the local park and rec teams in first grade.  You know, the  teams with the volunteer coaches, who are typically parents and really, the kids just kick at the ball and try to get it into the net.  There are no positions, no offsides, not really any rules at all.

During second grade, my son was generally faster than the rest of the kids.  This resulted in scoring many goals and quickly being pulled to the sidelines.  Park and Rec soccer seemed to be too easy for the kid.  We started looking for other options for soccer.

We are in a small town, but a soccer town.  All over the town you see club soccer kids playing on various fields.  My son participated in these club clinics the following summer. He enjoyed the kids, the drills and the skills he learned with the club.  When asked if he wanted to join last fall, Bashful thought it was a great idea.

However, club soccer isn’t the same as park and rec.  You learn the game.  The real rules.  The real positions.  The competitive kids.  The intensive parents and coaches.  All while the team had played together in this fashion for 3 previous seasons.

Bashful struggled through the  first season.  He felt out of place in more ways than just his soccer IQ.  The pressure killed him.  He felt out of place.  The kids knew each other, the rules, their positions and he was the outsider in every way shape and form.  By the end of fall season, he didn’t want to go and play anymore.

While we as parents knew there was a learning curve, we encouraged him to sign up for the spring season.  Just give it one more go we said.

Spring season was where his confidence just dwindled.  He would have breakdowns before going onto the field due to not knowing his positions as well as the other kids.  Coach A, his coach, worked very well to help decrease Bashful’s insecurities. He gave him opportunities to score and didn’t harp on him for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  However, Coach A ended up not being at a lot of games at the end of the season.  Coach B stepped in to coach a lot of games at the end of the season.  Sadly, he was opposite of Coach A in every single way.  He yelled a lot, benched kids for under performance, Coach A even was yellow carded (seriously during an 8 yr old game)!

Bashful shut down at the end.  Stopped trying.  He was goofing off rather than playing because hey, he will get yelled at even if he tries so why bother?

7 out of 10 kids quit youth sports by age 13.  That is a whopping 70%.  How crazy is that!?

Now I am not a proponent of the “everyone wins” mentality or the everyone needs a participation trophy thought.  However, the intensity needs to wait until late middle/ high school ages in my opinion.  When kids understand how sports work as well as what it means to push past the pain then yes, change the way sports are played.

My child, Bashful, is totally out of love with soccer, a game that he at least really enjoyed. His confidence as an athlete is squashed.  It breaks my heart a confidence building activity killed his confidence.

Thankfully, I am not alone in this.  The Race to Nowhere in Youth Sports is an organization that sees these sort of problems, and problems that are worse than the ones I experienced with our Club.  I can also say that I am partially at fault in this.  I suggested the club, thinking a bit of a challenge would help him flourish not diminish his confidence in athletics.

So before we push our kids on the soccer field, the basketball court, football field or on the ice rink, just give it a second thought, because we are working backwards now to rebuild the confidence my son once had.  Sports are a game.  Games should be fun.  Let’s keep it that way.

 

 

Babyland…It Does Get Better….

So the other night we went out to dinner with a few friends.   Aurora with her 9 mos baby,  Mulan with 2 kiddos, 4 years and 18 mos old and Merida with 3 kiddos, 3 mos, 2 years, and 4 years.

I was there with my 4 kids and hubby.  I had a wonderful time.  I got to hold my friend’s 3 month old.  I ate some yummy food, chatted and enjoyed my friends’ company, and the children played happily with the tablets provided by Chili’s.
There were 10 kids and 4 adults, while my kids’ age ranges from 4 years old to 10 years.


One of the kiddos, Flynn, 18 months, while sitting on his mother’s lap, grabbed and threw everything in arm’s reach.  I could see the  look of exhaustion, and frustration on Mulan’s (Flynn’s Mom) face. I smiled and was reminded of the 1st time we had a hard restaurant experience with a  kiddo….


This happened about 9 years ago, when my oldest was about 14 mos old.


No object was safe near him, our food was taking FOREVER!, and I couldn’t keep his hands distracted! I was so frustrated, “I thought sitting here and trying to eat out with a 14 month old is completely stupid!”


I couldn’t believe the next thing that came out of my mouth.


“Uhhhhh just put your fingers in your nose!”


And he did! He stuck both index fingers into both nostrils!


To this day he always has a finger in his nose. My hubby jokes that I taught him to pick his nose.


This particular experience at Chili’s recently remin
ded me so vividly of the frustration that comes with trying to enjoy something my husband and I used to enjoy before kids! Yet, I can still picture this tiny person so beautifully messy, with fingers up his nose looking at me with amazing eyes. So tiny and perfect! Now, it’s one of my favorite moments!


And you know what? I continued to be crazy and kept taking him out to eat and with MORE kids.  Most dinners out we’d get home put kids to bed and think “Why do we keep doing this?” Then we pull out the leftovers….or (the food we didn’t get a chance to eat) curl up in bed and watch a movie in the blissful silence of our sleeping kiddos. Babyland, as I call it is a crazy beautiful mess.”


The hour at Chili’s seemed to go by quickly.  We paid our tab, helped our friends to their cars, and drove home.  It was a wonderful dinner, I look back and think about how fast my kids have truly grown-up.  I do miss moments of Babyland…

 

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