The Bean has been playing lacrosse for over 3 years. The first few years, she loved it – the physicality of it, the speed, the great kids she played along side. Then last year, she started to make noises about not wanting to play anymore.
The thing about the Bean is she *never* wants to play anything. She is happiest in our house, Facetiming friends or playing on her phone – but, 9 times out 10, when she gets out of the house to do whatever activity she’s been dragged to, she’s happy to be there. So, when she started saying she didn’t want to play lacrosse, I pretty much ignored her and I signed her up for the season anyhow, figuring once she got in the swing of it, it wouldn’t be a big deal.
<Hi, my name is Heather. Evidently I’m new to this parenting thing.>
When lacrosse season started, Bean had to miss the first few weeks of practice due to conflicts. She kept telling us she didn’t want to play but we kept assuring her she’d love it and not to worry. I figured she’d fall into the same routine of complaining and then being fine once she was actually there.
Finally the first practice she could attend arrives and I knew I was in for a battle, but I figured within 5 minutes or so she’s be resigned and we’d be on our way.
Me: Hey, you have practice tonight. Eat your dinner and we’ll head out in a bit.
Bean: I’m not going.
Me: Yes, you are – we’ve talked about this. You love lacrosse! Eat up and we’ll go!
Bean: I don’t like lacrosse and I’m not going- I told you I’m not playing this year.
Me: Yes, you are- you’ve made a commitment.
<This is normally where she cries. Once that doesn’t work, she folds, grumpily gets ready and away we go to have a good night.>
Bean: (completely calm) No, I did not. YOU made the commitment. I told you I didn’t want to play, you signed me up anyhow. So the commitment is on you.
<Huh. Welllllll, this isn’t going to plan. She has a point, but I’ll be damned if I tell her that.>
Me: Either way, you’re on the team. They are expecting you – go get changed, we have to leave in a few.
Me: (clearing losing here and more than a little flummoxed) Well, if you don’t get changed, I’ll take you in your school uniform. I don’t care.
Bean: Neither do I. You can take me in my dress clothes – when I get there, I’m just going to tell the coach I don’t want to be there and sit on the bench. You can make me go, but you can’t make me play.
I always knew the Bean had a bigger back bone than most people. She’s been stubborn from day one and I know this trait will help her move mountains when she’s older. But now? Now, when she’s 11, I really just want her to do what I tell her to do. It would make *my* life a thousand times easier.
But did I really want to teach her that she has no voice now? Did I want to stifle her autonomy and force her to do something she really didn’t want to do – something I knew she didn’t want to do, but I signed her up for anyhow, ignoring her wishes? Do I want her to be a person that gives into what other people tell her to do just to make the other person happy?
I grew up with the philosophy that once you committed to something, you saw it through and have tried to raise my kids with the same mindset. But, in this case, she didn’t commit to something- she was 100% correct that the Hubs and I made that decision for her.
Sometimes, as a parent, it’s easy to make a proclamation and decide that the most important thing is to force your kids to do what you say. You dig in your heels and decide that that decision is a hill you’re willing to die on. And sometimes, as a parent, you’re 100% correct and your kids just have to deal.
And other times you wise up and realize that raising a kick-ass kid with a mind of her own and the strength of her convictions is a thousand times more important….no matter how much you miss watching her play.