Learning Through Sports

The spring sports season has come to an end. 

This was the first season that we had both boys in sports at the same time – T played his first season of baseball while B started soccer. We have spent the last few months shuttling kids and equipment to practices and games and parties. Weekends have been taken over by planning for parking, packing endless number of water bottles and fitting in all our other activities around game times. My sink has been soaking a seemingly endless rotation of white baseball pants in OxiClean. The kleats seem to outnumber the regular shoes. I am currently staring at the baseball bag by the front door that can now find a more permanent home and a couple of trophies that need a place on the shelf.

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Although I am feeling a bit of relief that our weekends are now our own again, I am a little sad to not be in the stands. There is something uniquely wonderful about watching your children improve at something over the course of a few weeks and months. Each little success – a great double, a save in goal – brought such light and joy to my children’s eyes, theirs searching for mine, the added boost in their smiles that came from seeing us clap and cheer for them. 

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As a parent, I often miss the little accomplishments. It seemed like T one day couldn’t read and now he’s hiding under the covers at night with a lantern polishing off chapter books. B was a late walker and yet now he’s deftly maneuvering his scooter down the neighborhood sidewalks. When did these things happen? Each game this spring forced me to slow down and focus on that individual child, that individual moment. It allowed me to turn a microscope on my children and watch them learn, make new friends, play, face challenges, experience wins and losses. I have learned so many new things by standing back and really observing my children. T is a big picture thinker who sometimes forgets he influences the game, too, because he’s so busy seeing what someone else can do to make the play (future manager?). He is an excellent hitter. He’s a goofball and a novice gum chewer. He keeps his coaches on their toes with endless questions and scenarios. B is concentrated during practice and eager to run after the ball. He’s not so good at remembering that he could actually score, but it doesn’t seem to bother him. He likes to kick and run full out taking a prat fall mid field just for the fun of it. 

The best part is that yesterday, even though our season is officially “over,” both boys begged to go outside and play catch and soccer on the field across the street. Throughout the season, I never once heard a “do I have to” or “I wish I didn’t have practice/a game today” (even if it still could take 10 extra minutes to wrangle everyone into the car). They have both come away this Spring with a love of their sport that I didn’t expect. Oh, I expected them to have fun, to play hard, to enjoy themselves. But this season, they’ve each found something more. Something that’s theirs. Something we can all share in with them. Something that will be with them for years to come – whether they continue to play these sports or not.  

I knew my children would learn teamwork, confidence and specific skills through sports. Who knew I’d learn so much about my own kids at the same time?

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