One of our summer bucket list items this year was for Pierce to go to soccer camp. My Mom took him to pick up all his soccer gear - some cleats, shin guards, shorts, and a soccer ball (thanks Cat Cat and Pop Pop!). Pierce was all ready. Or so we thought.
Like the other moms, I dropped him off on the first day and headed out to run some errands. After all, that's what I'd done the week before at Vacation Bible School, and Pierce had a grand time. It does feel a little weird just dropping your kid off, but you just trust that he's in good hands.
Soccer camp runs from 9-11, and I was done with my errands and back to watch at 10:30. What I discovered was alarming. Little 4 year olds running around and having a fine time, with Pierce lying on the grass, face-down, in the middle of the field. What was wrong with him? Should I walk down and intervene? I watched, my heart sinking further with dread with each moment. Eventually another little boy came by and patted him on the head. Pierce sat up, but slumped down and didn't participate with the other children for the rest of the time. I wanted to go grab him into my arms and give him a hug - or at least a pep talk. But I didn't.
When it was over, I asked him how it went. He said, "I don't like soccer camp." He proceeded to tell me that he didn't like the goalie throwing the ball at him, and that a boy in a yellow jersey was mean. I said, "Okay. What can we do to make it better for tomorrow? I want to make you feel good about going back." We agreed that Pierce would give it just one more day, and that if it wasn't better he could quit after that. I realized in retrospect that I never showed him what a game of soccer was like - that he went into this totally unprepared for the mentality of group sports.
So the next day we went back to camp. I had promised Pierce that this time Cort and Reid and I would be there the whole time. We wouldn't leave, but we'd stay way up on the hill so that he could have his space. However, if he felt alone or scared he could look up and know that we were there, that we wanted to watch him kick the ball and play with his friends!
So Reid and Cort played in the Memory Garden.
And they worked the registration table.
And from time to time we peeked down the hill to see what Pierce was up to.
We were excited to see him kick the ball a few times!
The coaches tried harder to involve him in things, and although he dragged his feet a lot he was participating.
I'm glad that Pierce was able to stick it out. The Tiger Mom I am not, but I'm also glad I didn't jump in to intervene, even though it was hard not to. I think sometimes, we have to find our independence on our own, even if it's a hard route to go.
Each day got a little better for Pierce, he decided to continue going, and he had warmed up to soccer much more by the end of the week.
Come next year, he'll know what to expect.
But when I ask him if he wants to do soccer camp - if he says no - I will totally respect that and we'll find something else to do.
Linking up tomorrow with Mom Loop's blog hop to Celebrate our Children's Independence: