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Dad Too Competitive With Kids' Sports

Soccer Brought Out My Husband's Competitive Side, but Not My 6-Year-Old's

My daughter has tried almost every kid activity out there, and they've all pretty much gone the same way. At the end of each session, she tells me that she no longer wants to do the musical theater or hip-hop dance classes she claimed to love while enrolled and instead wants to try karate or art, which I agree to sign her up for as long as one of my neighbors' kids is enrolled, too (carpooling is awesome, y'all).

So when she decided this Fall that soccer was up next, I signed her up for a team populated mostly with our neighbors' kids, knowing not to get too invested, because it would, like the rest of her interests, probably be a passing fancy. A few months, zero wins, two ties, and six losses later, I would say that, as I expected, she's considering her options for her next extracurricular. She likes soccer just as much as she's liked every other activity she's tried, which is to say she's happy to move on to the next one. Her father, however? He's all in.

My husband isn't really a sports guy, quickly losing interest even in his favorite team after a few early season losses. Despite being naturally athletic, he didn't play a sport in school and often calls on my sports-obsessed dad and brother to foster our young son's obvious affinity for anything related to throwing, hitting, or kicking a ball. But the minute he saw our daughter step onto that soccer field, something clicked.

He is now the dad who's yelling at the coaches from the sidelines to switch out the goalie because her head isn't in the game (note: that goalie was his own child!), he keeps me abreast of which of our players are really developing nicely ("that Lily is a sleeper; did you see that goal today?!") and which are obviously more interested in the after-game snack (again, his kid), and he has become obsessed with our daughter's team getting a win.

"Honey, what's your one goal for tomorrow's game?" he asked her last Friday night, as our family watched Moana, cuddled up in our bed. "To have fun," she replied immediately. "No," he countered. "To win!" I rolled my eyes at this exchange, but when he asked her the same question two more times, giving her tips about charging the ball and not being afraid to get aggressive, I had to elbow him. "She's 6, babe, and she's just learning. Let's not give her a complex, OK?"

In my mind, this stage that she's in where she's happy just playing the game regardless of the outcome is a small window of time I want her to enjoy.

He muttered under his breath something about how she needed to learn that life wasn't all about having fun, a sentiment I ignored, not wanting to get in an argument about how, in my opinion, a 6-year-old girl's soccer game should be exactly all about having fun. The competitive streak that he is trying to pull out in her? I know it will come out eventually. She is, after all, her parents' daughter, and neither one of us likes to lose. In my mind, this stage that she's in where she's happy just playing the game regardless of the outcome is a small window of time I want her to enjoy.

I already see it fading when she's upset because she didn't get a perfect score on her spelling test or wasn't placed in her class's highest reading group. But at this time in her young life, I don't want her being down because she didn't win at a game she just learned a few months ago. I don't want her to think winning is everything. I want her to find joy in simply playing . . . even if she is a pretty sh*tty goalie.

Image Source: Flickr user JBLM MWR
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