When Did Soccer Lose it’s Cartwheels?

When my oldest daughter (poor thing – I learn most of my parenting lessons through her!) was in second grade she played soccer. There was always lots of giggling, cartwheels and fun, and she loved it!

However, when third grade soccer started last fall, the game became much more serious. The fields were bigger, the games and practices were longer, and it was much more work and much less play. I got it – she was older, she was 8, it made sense.

More drills, less giggles, more running, less prancing, more blocking, less passing. It’s third grade – the big time – way more work at school and on the field, so it was the time to settle down and focus, right? All the other parents and kids were focused, so mine should be too, right…?

Everytime she got chatty with her friends, I would tell her to stop talking and focus; every time she giggled, I told her to calm down; everytime she did a cartwheel (which are her favorite things in the world) in the middle of the field, I would shout at her across the field to stop!

Well, needless to say, she hated soccer that year. It was the year of “no more.”
No more fun = No more soccer.

She hated the constant running and loved the giggles. She hated the discipline and she loved the freedom of the cartwheel.

At the end of the season, we both hated it. I felt angry and frustrated that she wouldn’t just play and focus, and be the next Mia Hamm. She felt frustrated that I made her run, focus and stop giggling.

She hated the discipline and she loved the freedom of the cartwheel.
You see, it took me almost a full year after the soccer season had ended to realize something – She hates soccer! She only did it to hang out with and have fun with her friends. I mean, for crying out loud – she’s only 8!

At eight years old, sports should still be about cartwheels and giggles! When did we stop letting our kids just be kids and have F.U.N., and do cartwheels? I loved cartwheels as a kid, always have, and still do. As a matter of fact, my first boss out of college would ask me when I completed a project if it was “cartwheel worthy” because I had been known to do them in the halls.

She’s 8 – she’s supposed to do cartwheels. So instead of looking at her (rather adorable) third grade soccer season as terrible, I now look at it as one of my best parenting lessons. (A quick shout out to all of the parents whose kids love it and were totally focused – she did LOVE playing, laughing and cartwheeling with your amazing daughters, and for that I thank you).

Sometimes laughter and giggles are success. Those are the successes they need… and we must remember that. Their job is to be kids, nothing more and nothing less.

Have you ever had a time where you “took the cartwheels away”?
Leave a comment below telling me what it was, and how you see it differently now.
As we know, the best advice always comes from other mama’s.

Until next time, sista’!

PS… When was the last time you did a cartwheel? If you answer is more than a few months, grab your kids, go outside today and try one – you’ll remember how amazing and freeing and silly they feel. Go ahead, I double-dog-dare you!

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  • Claire says:

    Love the website and love this article. Eve’s soccer coach mentioned this week that during camp he caught her doing cartwheels. It was a moment before I realized that he was a tad irritated. After reading this, I have a whole new perspective .. C’mon the cartwheels!!!

    • Christina Neuner says:

      I’m glad you can relate and even happier that you picked up on it yourself much faster than I did! It took me almost a year to realize that cartwheels are AMAZING! Way to go mama! XO

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