Radical unschooling and organized sports - Page 5 - Mothering Forums
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#121 of 161 Old 06-30-2008, 01:43 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by Kessed View Post
At the playground across the street from my house - there are ALWAYS kids out there playing basketball, soccer and other 'games'. I'm serious.
That's great. That's not the case where we live. I'm serious too. If it was the case, there would be no issue here.

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You are trying to force your idea of what you want your son to play onto a pre-existing structure.
Nope. No force used at all. My son and I had a concern that we brought to the coach's attention. At that point, the ball was in his court. He had a choice to tell us "Okay, but then I can't coach you," or "okay, that's fine," or "maybe there's a compromise." If he had said the first, my son would have then had a choice to either acquiesce or quit. None of that was ever the issue. The issue was that the coach didn't say any of those things; he chose instead to try to coerce my son into doing something he didn't feel good about. And that's not okay with me. And then, he apparently thought better of it and let him alone. And I'm okay with that choice.

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One of the primary pillars of 'team' sports is that a coach is in charge.
And as I said, that is convention in our culture. Logically, it's not the only valid way to play team sports. It wasn't true for my husband's team.

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Wanting your son to have special exceptions while playing on a team is like wanting him to go to public school and having the teacher let him unschool in the regular classroom. I'm sure you'd agree that the latter isn't reasonable - so why do you think the former is?
Actually, I think it's completely reasonable. If the teacher's amenable to it, why not?
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#122 of 161 Old 06-30-2008, 01:53 AM
 
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Fine.

You win.

You came here asking a question. And you have chosen to ignore EVERYTHING that people have said that didn't line up with your view of the world. m

So - I'm done.

I got the impression at first that you were actually interested in a discussion. But I see now that's not the case.

So - have fun.
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#123 of 161 Old 06-30-2008, 02:19 AM
 
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wow guys chill out. You are both "talking" over the other. "listen" to the words you are each writing. No one is answering anything and there are two (or five??) different topics going on. I think the original topic would be very interesting and have been reading with interest since it started (when I can get on). But I just don't know what the topic is anymore. Is it overbearing coach, team players, the proper way to warm up???

Lets all have some of this:

:::::::::: :::::

Allison wife and mom to four. 

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#124 of 161 Old 06-30-2008, 04:43 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I do not see an RU factor in this.....unless YOU are the coach.
The RU factor comes in in how we respond to our children's feelings. Do you just say, "suck it up and do what you're told", or do you support them in speaking up and doing what is right for them? RU is relevant, too, as far as talking about what RU-friendly (or consentual living) sports would look like, and how to get closer to it.

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I understand your frustration, but unless you are willing to coach the team, it is up to the coach to set the tone for his or her team.
Thanks for the hug. I do agree that ultimately it's the coach's call as to whether he's comfortable coaching a child that isn't obeying unconditionally, but that doesn't mean it's not appropriate to question things or request reasonable adjustments.

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Lesson learned for your son: You can not choose how people run things, but you CAN choose to participate or not.
Absolutely. And one more lesson: sometimes it pays to be honest and open because people just may choose to work with you.

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Originally Posted by granolapunk
but, i basically feel like kids do need to learn that not everyone does things the way we do, i can do what i can to help but not everyone can accommodate us and that's just life, take it or leave it but maybe that's not very RU of me.
I don't see how being realistic about that is contrary to RU. RU, to me, is respecting my son's choice whatever that is, and supporting him in his expectation that others treat him respectfully. He knows very well that the coach could tell him "I can't coach you unless you do everything I tell you without question", which is not disrespectful, it's just the coach's comfort level, and he knows that his choice in that case would be to either do what the coach wants or quit.
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OP- did the coach explain the physical aspects of needing to warm up or was he just using 'your part of a team, i'm the coach yada-yada'?
What he said was variations on "you just need to do the run with the rest of the kids", and "if don't run you'll get injured." My son is warming up just fine, actually, so it's really not a safety issue at all. So yeah, it does seem that there's an "I'm the coach so you do what I say" element to it, and I kind of get the feeling that the coach was reacting a little out of hurt pride, like for my son to not do what he was told was an implication that he thought he wasn't being a good coach. Or some such thing. My son very sincerely explained why he felt like the run wasn't right for him to be doing, and the coach was dismissive of that and pressured him to do it anyway. My son continued to say "no" and the pressure continued until he caved in, and the coach ran along side to make sure he ran the whole way. I regard that as a basically disrespectful way to treat someone, and I don't believe team sports have to be approached in this way. I understand that some people disagree, and that's fine. But for me, for the purposes of this thread, I wanted to talk about it from an RU (essentially, consensual living) perspective. What do you do if your child's "no" is not taken as a "no"? In our case, I told my son I supported him in standing strong in what he felt was best for his body (there's more throughout the thread on the why of that) and that it might mean he wouldn't be able to play anymore if the coach wasn't okay with that.

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Originally Posted by mammal_mama
I believe there was a reason she put Radical Unschooling in the title: She wanted to open up a discussion among RU parents about dealing with our children's desire to participate in organized sports, coupled with our children's desire to retain their autonomy and have their No's be respected, as they're used to with us.
Yep.

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I know church issues aren't the same as organized sports. But, honestly, I find there are politics in every organized thing we try to take part in. And for extraverted, active kids, it's hard to meet their needs without ever getting involved in any organized stuff. So, to me, it all comes down to keeping the communications open with my children, and helping them determine what they really want.

Again, it's hard to know how much to communicate with leaders. I don't want to come across as if I, a new person, am trying to "take over" or tell someone else "how to do her job." At the same time, in my past experiences leading children's activities, I've often been greatly helped by parents who were willing to offer suggestions about how to better meet the needs of individual children. I greatly prefer communication over someone just dropping out and never saying anything. How will I learn if no one ever says anything?
I followed your story on the other thread and was very impressed with how you handled it. And yes, I do think it's completely relevant. Different activities, but same sort of situation.

Mama in the forest, I appreciate the support. I feel like I'm in the twilight zone. I have done my best to remain patient and answer all questions asked of me, even when they were irrelevant, even when they were asked over and over again despite my having already answered them. I'm feeling pretty hurt right now that anyone would seek to malign me by claiming otherwise. I guess I'll just hope that people won't take that at face value and actually read the thread if they have any question about the truth of that. I haven't been ignoring anyone. But I'm going to start now, thanks to a nifty little feature of the board software. And hopefully (if anyone still has the energy for it ) we can get back on track.
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#125 of 161 Old 06-30-2008, 09:32 AM
 
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hey four,

i don't think the issue is you or the topic at hand BTW.... i think the issue is RU.

i think there are a bunch of people posting here who really don't understand RU and so are really having a hard time getting their mind around what you are discussing.

i remember when my DS was really little i joined a sorta-CL discussion list for AP-ers. it was for sure non-authoritarian. and i just didn't "get" what they were discussing and said some really ummm..... imprudent things because i really didn't understand what they talking about.

when one person wants to discuss something, and the other people discussing don't understand the intellectual underpinnings of the discussion , it's like one person is talking in spanish and the other in italian.... they are similar and can sometimes get what the other is saying, but true communication isn't really happening. nor is it likely to happen anytime soon. (communication: message intended = message received)

we should have a listening smilie on MDC.

"Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this, too, was a gift." -- Mary Olivercoolshine.gif

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#126 of 161 Old 06-30-2008, 11:33 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Kessed View Post
Fine.

You win.

You came here asking a question. And you have chosen to ignore EVERYTHING that people have said that didn't line up with your view of the world. m

So - I'm done.

I got the impression at first that you were actually interested in a discussion. But I see now that's not the case.

So - have fun.
yup, i think this really is the crux of the conflict here.... in your worldview there is a winner and a loser. and it's really important who is winning and who is losing. (hence your snarkiness about her "winning") but in the RU/CL worldview, there is room in nearly all situations for everyone to "win" so to speak. there is a way for the coach and the child to have their needs met and be happy about the resolution. as long as everyone is willing to talk about it. the issue here was how to move closer to a place where a coach would be more willing to discuss a way to be sonsensual versus the coach being seen as having ultimate authority (ie god-like powers).

and yeah i think the OP was *not* interested in discussing how she should be doing things.... she's already happy with being an RU family. she was interested in getting feedback about how to move toward a win/win situation in organized sports from other RU families.

"Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this, too, was a gift." -- Mary Olivercoolshine.gif

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#127 of 161 Old 06-30-2008, 11:38 AM
 
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be doing things.... she's already happy with being an RU family. she was interested in getting feedback about how to move toward a win/win situation in organized sports from other RU families.

Well, I for one, would love to hear how it got worked out.
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#128 of 161 Old 06-30-2008, 12:47 PM
 
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i don't think the issue is you or the topic at hand BTW.... i think the issue is RU.

i think there are a bunch of people posting here who really don't understand RU and so are really having a hard time getting their mind around what you are discussing.
Yes, I know people are saying they "get" it, but someone who's just read up on the ideas isn't going to have the same perspective as someone who's been actively trying to live it out with her own family. Not that there's just one RU perspective (I'm hasty to add this lest I get accused, again, of being overly-regimented in my application of RU ).

I'm just saying that the deeper in we go, the more interesting layers of social attitudes we find it necessary to work through. For kids who are wanting to get out and plunge into various activities offered by community or church, it's not always as simple as "submit or leave."

Well, yeah, it is that simple in some cases: As the OP stated, if the leader says this is the way it has to be, and isn't open to change, then, yeah, our children pretty much have to make a choice to stay in or leave, and we need to be their sounding-boards, and support them whichever way they decide to go.

However, sometimes people in leadership seem open to considering other points of view, and they don't just come out and say, "I'm not going to bend on this." That's been the OP's experience with this coach, and he actually is respecting her son's wishes now, and it's worked out for her son to stay on the team. As she says, "sometimes it pays to be honest and open because people just may choose to work with you."

At our previous church, at first I got the impression that the pastor's wife really did want to work with us. It's a new, small congregation that's been blessed with a large building -- the previous congregation was dying out, the older people didn't want to make any changes to attract younger people, and with the leadership change most of the old members left.

They now have newer worship-music. However, the children mainly come from two large homeschooling families (one being the pastor's family), and I finally realized these two moms (pastor's wife and Wednesday night children's leader), really like it that their kids are accustomed to just listening to the Bible being read and discussed without "frills." Since the Bible is interesting in and of itself, they don't feel it's necessary to do anything to "make" it interesting to young children.

So, while the pastor's wife initially seemed interested in getting my dd to want to come to class, bottom-line was that she wanted dd to just adapt to their way of doing things. We're a Bible-believing family, but we don't believe in forcing our kids to listen to Bible-reading, or anything for that matter. My 8yo can actually listen to very long books and stories, but she's also free to say when she's done -- also, she's always been free to move around, do artwork, and play with toys while listening to something.

I actually find she takes a lot in that way. For instance, I sometimes read books to dh because since his cataract surgery, he has a hard time reading small print. So sometimes our girls will be playing while I'm reading dh the Sears' Discipline Book (we're trying to get on the same page about Gentle Discipline) -- and suddenly our 8yo will come up and start discussing it with us. So I no longer feel that the only way for a child to listen, is for her to be doing absolutely nothing else and have her eyes trained to my face.

But I'm also willing to accept there's no guarantee that certain specific things are going to be heard and taken in at any given time: It all depends on the needs and interest-level of the child at that moment (but that's true even if you're prohibiting other activity, and making them sit quietly).

There seems to be a more child-friendly philosophy in our new church, but we'll take our time and see. The other night at a Bible-school party, after praying thanks for the cupcakes, the leader said, "Now, nice little children (which I know you all are) always wait 'til everyone's served before they start eating" -- and I kind of went "yikes!" inwardly, hoping no one would get shamed or punished for taking a bite.

But no one broke the rule -- not even my 3yo: She was sitting with my 8yo and my 8yo kept reminding her, and she managed to wait the minute it took to serve everyone, and then the leader said, "Everyone's served, now we can eat!" But I wondered what might have happened, especially as I'd previously seen this leader send her own son to stand in the corner for throwing a marker (which made me wonder if she'd also punish someone else's child).

I'm still going to class with my 3yo, so there's no risk of her getting punished as I'm there to deal with any problems that come up (and I won't quit going with her before she's comfortable, or before I'm confident that they'll come get me, and won't punish my child for any misbehavior).

And my 8yo is having so much fun in this church, and has told me she's never seen anyone in her class getting punished thus far. We used to be in a church where dd liked her classes, but would come home talking about certain boys having to sit in timeout a lot -- and I frankly didn't like that it was happening, even if it never happened to my child.

So, our new church seems more child-responsive than these previous two churches -- but I can see that wherever we go, I'm going to need to stay attentive and be ready to communicate in behalf of my children. This is an ongoing need for all RU parents who haven't yet been able to form their own complete RU-community, but whose children nevertheless feel a strong need for community-involvement. We have to cope with people who think we're "way out there," and feel we're "ruining" our kids, and so on.

For instance, I feel sure the pastor's wife at our previous church (who's also the president of our neighborhood Christian homeschooling group, and is aware that we unschool), is probably (after her experience with us) talking with her friends about how unschooling creates kids who always have to be entertained, and aren't able to just sit quietly and receive spiritual instruction.

It's a unique situation, as dd really enjoyed being part of this group's 2 hour Friday co-op last spring (and made a new friend there), so I definitely want to join up again in the fall, and maintain good relationships with her and everyone else. Basically, it means that I'll do all my ranting online (if any annoyances crop up), rather than talking negatively with any new friends I make in the group, as my communications might get back around and create a difficult situation for my child.

Susan -- married unschoolin' WAHMomma to two lovely girls (born 2000 and 2005).
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#129 of 161 Old 06-30-2008, 12:57 PM
 
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Well, I for one, would love to hear how it got worked out.
Well, all of us who've been reading the thread have already got the answer to that. I was going to go back and find the actual post for you, but my girls are needing me now. To summarize: the coach is now letting the OP's son warm up in a way that works for him and his body: The son is getting adequately warmed up (as he always has been), and is still not getting injured.

Susan -- married unschoolin' WAHMomma to two lovely girls (born 2000 and 2005).
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#130 of 161 Old 06-30-2008, 01:47 PM
 
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Well, all of us who've been reading the thread have already got the answer to that. I was going to go back and find the actual post for you, but my girls are needing me now. To summarize: the coach is now letting the OP's son warm up in a way that works for him and his body: The son is getting adequately warmed up (as he always has been), and is still not getting injured.
I get that part. I am wondering *how* they worked it out, how does he warm up in a way that works for him and the team, how many practices it took for the communication to be satisfactory etc. Is this a case of a coach not getting RU and being coersive and coming around or what? Did he apologize etc.

Basically, What's the lesson RUs can take fromt his experience?

IS the mainstream world unwilling to work it out with the RU world? I think sharing how it worked out for one RU kid to do a team sport would help in furture discussions of this nature.

I heard all the worry, now I want to hear about the resolution. :
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#131 of 161 Old 06-30-2008, 02:30 PM
 
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So you're saying that you want a more-detailed description than the following --

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Originally Posted by fourlittlebirds View Post
Nope. No force used at all. My son and I had a concern that we brought to the coach's attention. At that point, the ball was in his court. He had a choice to tell us "Okay, but then I can't coach you," or "okay, that's fine," or "maybe there's a compromise." If he had said the first, my son would have then had a choice to either acquiesce or quit. None of that was ever the issue. The issue was that the coach didn't say any of those things; he chose instead to try to coerce my son into doing something he didn't feel good about. And that's not okay with me. And then, he apparently thought better of it and let him alone. And I'm okay with that choice.
Plus all the other details the OP has shared up to this point? I guess it's up to the OP, whether or not she want to keep re-hashing this specific situation. From my understanding, the OP opened up this thread to discuss the issues in a broader way, and she's not really interested in staying focused on her son's team and how many practices it took, and so on.

Susan -- married unschoolin' WAHMomma to two lovely girls (born 2000 and 2005).
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#132 of 161 Old 06-30-2008, 02:47 PM
 
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Basically, What's the lesson RUs can take fromt his experience?
One important thing I got was the following statement which I've already quoted once before:

"sometimes it pays to be honest and open because people just may choose to work with you."

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IS the mainstream world unwilling to work it out with the RU world?
I think the answer varies as much as the individual people and situations involved. Clearly, in the OP's particular case, they've found a workable solution.

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I think sharing how it worked out for one RU kid to do a team sport would help in furture discussions of this nature.
I feel like the OP has done this. She's shared how her son talked with the coach, and how when he didn't respect her son's No, she talked with him herself and backed up her son's right to say No, as well as her son's knowledge of his own body, including what kind of a warm-up worked best for him.

More details, such as how many practices it took, or exact reproductions of the dialog between her and the coach -- how would all this be helpful, as each situation is bound to be different? Even if I handle a similar situation in the exact same way, I can't assume that it will have the same result, and be resolved within "x" number of practices, can I?

Susan -- married unschoolin' WAHMomma to two lovely girls (born 2000 and 2005).
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#133 of 161 Old 06-30-2008, 03:26 PM
 
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*peers through clearing smoke* is it safe? are we back to the topic and paring down the number of question marks at the end of each query?

i should say that it's the seemingly limitless patience of mamas like fourlittlebirds and mamal_mama, over many years, which has schooled (unschooled? lol) me in the idea that people can really be comfortable with -- well, with being unimpressed with our paramilitary societal bent -- and still want to discuss things that come up when their kinder, gentler paradigms clash with it. it's a continuation of the refusal to 'sign up or drop out' idea. sure, you can do that... but as mamal_mama said earlier, if someone just drops out without saying anything, how would she learn?

what does it hurt to assume that everyone is doing their best at any moment? and following that, what does it hurt to assume that people (like this coach) are open to positive change? after all, an outdated attitude isn't incurable cancer - people are as capable of change as they are willing to be. yet the nature of human interaction seems to be down a path of least resistance. unless you resist - and it can be done kindly and respectfully - you're being a bit unfair to the other party yourself (i feel). leaving the team would send too broad a message, in my mind. at least if there's a particular issue being addressed, there's room for growth.

i think 'the best we can do' is often the best we can do only because we haven't been exposed to anything better. and by 'better' i mean, 'kinder'. short-tempered axe grinders are in ready supply. how many mother theresas can you think of? and she herself (it now seems) was also filled with doubt. i think we all are. who knows what the end result of simply being as kind as possible to everyone, regardless of age, may affect the world?

i guess i'm not surprised that some posters to this thread can't seem to visualize what a world would look like where openness and kindness was a default reaction; posters who in fact seem alarmed by the very idea of challenging an authority figure in this way. (e.g. 'if we accommodate this one person, we'd have to do it for everyone! and the whole of sports comes screeching to an end!') even for me, it's hard to imagine our ruthlessly militaristic society not taking advantage of people who are simply not wired to be as self-serving and aggressive as the majority. still, i can't quite give up hope that we could try it and see. isn't the idea that sports couldn't be played at a high level by thoughtful people a little alarmist? i've played ultimate myself, in tournaments and everything. over 90% of the teams were made up of thoughtful, fun-loving, and enjoyable people. and 100% of them weren't coached by anyone. (there were usually one or two people with the idea for the team that went around gathering people up, but they didn't have any special authority.) and it was *fun to play*. which for me, was the point. it was revolutionary, the way people came and went freely, called equipment time outs to tie shoes or pull up underwear, the way you called your own fouls. the revolution will not be built upon blind acceptance of authority. this is radical unschooling we're talking about, after all. which it seems a lot of folks didn't grasp when they started posting on this thread. i'm no expert, either, but i'm certainly open.

going back to hipmama, when i first became aware of parenting issues as a political statement, i didn't have any kids myself (i still don't) but i was still suffering the wounds of having been treated as most of us are as kids, which is to say somewhere along the lines of third-class citizen. so my natural reaction was to defend how i was treated ('my parents are good ones! i turned out fine!') and simultaneously, to fume about how anyone could suggest treating their kids more kindly than i had been. a bit unfair of me, wouldn't you say? fortunately, i was still young enough to recall, very clearly, what that injustice felt like - from the kid's perspective. which does help when you're trying to dig up some empathy that you don't think you can feel.

ultimately, the ruthless logic of treating people (including very young, very short ones) no less respectfully than you would want to be treated yourself wore me down. i started nannying for other people's kids and seeing for myself the real, live difference between talking *down to* kids and talking *with* them. the former made my life a lot more unpleasant, and the latter cultivated a real friendship that we could draw on when we were both beaten down (tired, hungry, upset - the usual things that crop up in daily life). and that foundation was absolutely necessary to enjoying my job as opposed to just struggling through the day. (dealing with much more regimented parents of these kids was a different story LOL).

as i raised two young brothers to school age, i realized the fruits of the authoritarian model were not ones i enjoyed harvesting. try as i might, i couldn't justify reducing the rank of kids i cared for just because they were kids - because other than age, there was no difference between them and me. they wanted the same things i wanted (to be heard; to have their autonomy respected; to feel secure in their bodies, their possessions, and their emotional expressions) and they wanted to be treated equally, which is to say democratically, in a group of people. the only justification i could call up for treating them as beneath me was convenience. and as i said, the 'convenience' didn't grow fruit i wanted to harvest. it wasn't actually convenient, it was just lazy of me. when i go to the effort to extend myself, i get confident, happy, agreeable comrades - rather than sour-faced prisoners of my moods, rattling their tin cups on the cell door. which would you choose to spend your days with?

so i made some changes in my attitude, and with the next pair of young boys i raised i was careful to improve on my past mistakes. i made new ones, of course, but i was open to learning better and adapted more quickly when i realized i was being rigid or resistant out of habit. i also got better at admitting when i was doing something for my own comfort or convenience, rather than framing it as a benefit to our little team. kids are surprisingly forgiving when i'm this honest with them. they also reciprocate, which is very handy, and which is good practice for us all in gaining some emotional intelligence.

ultimately, it made my job harder for the kids to see me as an authority. i can't always guess what their bodies are telling them, but if i'm open to asking questions (rather than giving orders) then usually, between the two of us, we can figure it out. this isn't a popular method of dealing with children, not as parents, and certainly not as nannies. ('if the kids sleep when they're tired, then they won't sleep when *i* need them to!', - the same with meal-times, with the following of routines, etc.) it's about the needs of the grownups, which get an inflated value. when the adult's needs are inflated artificially this way, it becomes logical (in a way) to continue to inflate the needs of the grownups, even when the need is vanishingly unimportant - like the need for this coach to assert himself in some way. it seems clear to me that the needs of a person's body (if sudden, hard activity causes injury - why jog them around a field as the first step? this is completely illogical) should prevail over a person's need to assert the very small authority assumed in the position of volunteer coach. it's just that we no longer think about these things critically, because so little behavior in our society is based on critical thinking rather than tradition.

what we have in our society isn't a true democracy, it is capitalistic. valuing the input of someone based on how much financial weight they carry is the norm. here in this very thread it has been assumed (by people who seem to have overlooked or misunderstood the RU concept) that the coach's ideas or input are worth more than that of the players, even in matters that he can not possibly be knowledgeable about, such as the needs or limits of another person's physical capability. he's a volunteer, and yet it is still assumed that he has some special knowledge about 'biology' or the science of sports injury that the untrained mind can not intuitively grasp.

so while i'm on a roll, let me just say something about injuries, and warming up: i have nannied eight little boys from birth to the age of five; i've marched them all over town, taken them out on bikes, ran them ragged at various city parks, encouraged them to do their best in swim lessons, and i have *never* seen an activity related injury on one of them. nor, i should point out, have i ever roused them from their beds, marched them down-stairs, and instructed them to do a few laps around the yard before they do anything else for the day in order to avoid injury. a basic principle in RU is trust, right? we trust our bodies, certainly more so than we need to trust a stranger who claims to be an authority on the subject. (prove yourself first, but i'm not following you just because your shirt says 'coach' on it). our bodies send us clear messages to prevent us from hurting ourselves. when we're not directed to do so by others, i find that we naturally start off at a slower pace in our days and pick up speed as that becomes comfortable, necessary, or enjoyable. this is the way our bodies normally operate. when we listen to them, we escape injury. when we ignore them (or put a coach's needs or directions above those of our bodies) we get injured. the danger is in ignoring the internal wisdom of our bodies, not in the engagement in activity. several other posters get this and have said it in other ways, i just feel it bears repeating.

anyway, though i have an athletic build and ability, it went unused as a kid because the sports/military paradigm was so deeply unattractive. i wish i had had the support of a mom like fourlittlebirds, or mamal_mama, to support me in the kind of activity i was willing to engage in rather than dismissing my natural attraction to physical activity as useless outside of the competitive sports model. as it was, i spent a lot of time in very solitary activities (biking, tree-climbing, reading, reading, reading, and writing) which left my life more than a little out of balance.

i was 22 years old, reading discussions on AP parenting, and working hard to explain to myself why other kids should be treated more kindly than i was. i got better. and i'm a terrific snot a lot of the time. if i can do it, anyone can. all it takes is an open mind - and the very important catalyst of someone asking me to think about it. this is what mamas like fourlittlebirds did for me then. i'm thankful she has the patience, because about halfway through this thread i was ready to give up and just bang my head against the wall. she persevered, though. she never gave up! and now the thread has lived to see my incredibly long, unnecessarily autobiographical post. aren't we all better for it?? ha!

i'm just so glad that people, people with far more patience and humanity than it seems i ever will have, will step up and ask people to think about things like this. so much of our lives are spent in a rush to earn, gain, consume, (collapse), get up and do it again. when we reflect just a little bit, we gain some freedom. and freedom, as it's been said by the journal of radical mediocrity, is only an unproductive day away. :
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#134 of 161 Old 06-30-2008, 03:27 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Well, to recap (to answer UUMom, and anyone who might not have yet waded through the entire thread):

My son is part of an organized gathering of people learning about a sport, and found a while back that one particular activity was not serving him, was actually a very negative thing for him, and he explained that to the person guiding the learning of the sport. The person guiding the learning was rather blithely dismissive of this and heavily pressured him to keep doing it. My son was very distressed that this person, who he was supposed to have a trusting relationship with, had not respected his self-knowledge as valid and that he used his position of power as an authority figure to get him to behave in a way that denied it.

I told my son that I understood and supported him, and talked to him about his options. I said that one thing we could do, was that I could try to clarify the situation for this person in a way that perhaps my son hadn't been able to do with his more limited vocabulary and understanding of how mainstream adults see things. I asked him if he wanted me to try this, and he said yes.

I figured that this person probably was feeling his pride a bit hurt at my son bucking the convention that says that there ought to be one person in charge in sports play who deserves absolute obedience. Or maybe a feeling of loss of control in trying to manage a large group of children and having to deal with a dissenter. I don't believe he treats his own family that way in general, but it is "just the way things are done" in sports in our culture, and I think he was just unthinkingly going along with that, maybe out of habit, and that he felt psychic discomfort at being challenged on it and so resisted it. I think that's understandable -- hell, it happens to me all the time in everyday parenting. I also figured that he was operating under the assumption that if a child doesn't want to do something, it's due to a character flaw, e.g. "laziness" and that the child shouldn't be allowed to get away with that. Last, he was using the standard rationale that this particular activity is crucial for avoiding injury, which taken in its dogmatic form is not rational and not relevant to our particular circumstances anyway.

So I wanted to explain the 'why' of it in a way that might mitigate those assumptions in his mind and help him feel more comfortable with respecting my son's self-knowledge about what is best for him. So for instance, one thing I talked about was there being less likelihood of injury if a person is in tune with his body and understanding its needs and limits, than if he were simply to do what he's told according to some standardized and/or arbitrary rule. I actually had a whole long list of considerations like this, and this person seemed to hear me so I thought the issue was settled.

But then he started the pressure back up to get my son to do this thing again. So I told my son, we've done our best to reason with him, and we can't make him stop pressuring you, so at this point you have a choice to make. You have to decide whether it's more worth it to you to do what he wants and guarantee you can continue to play, or to remain true to what you know is right for you and risk him deciding that he won't allow you to participate anymore. I said I would support him either way. He decided on the latter. This person kept pressuring him, but never threatened him with not allowing him to play. (This is the point at which I came here to ask how other RUers had handled similar situations, out of curiosity, and also just to commiserate. )

For the last two practices this person has just let my son be. I think a sort of detente has been reached, and perhaps that was possible because we did make an effort to communicate gently, and maybe it just took time for him to assimilate this different way of looking at things. Or maybe he still doesn't understand or agree with us at all, and just decided it wasn't important enough to him to continue to put negative energy into it. I really don't know.

In any case, it has been an excellent learning experience for my son.
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#135 of 161 Old 06-30-2008, 03:41 PM
 
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That's how it goes sometimes...not so much a resolution , but more of an unspoken agreement to peacefully co -exist. Not too bad, all in all.
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#136 of 161 Old 06-30-2008, 04:10 PM
 
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autiehallie, I really enjoyed your post, and am glad you took time to write it.

One thing that struck me as I was reading it, was that society's not this static thing -- it's constantly changing, so there really is a point in trying to communicate and affect the direction and content of the change.

That said, I'd be more inclined to just drop out sometimes, if it weren't for the needs and desires of my children.

Susan -- married unschoolin' WAHMomma to two lovely girls (born 2000 and 2005).
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#137 of 161 Old 06-30-2008, 06:24 PM
 
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I think what you did with/for? your son is great. Maybe it doesn't seem like a big deal but I think exactly what you did is the epitome of RU to me, I hope that my kids feel that supported as well. I can just remember situations similar to this as a child (the mile run in P.E. class for one) where I felt so isolated and heartbroken when my parents were always on the same 'team' as the teachers/coaches/other authority.

My son recently did a week long Capoeira camp. He had never done it before but we watched some youtube.com videos and he really wanted to do it. That is, until of course, two days before camp he decided it was too long a day (10-3) and wasn't comfortable with it. So, I emailed the lady and said he had decided not to do it and could we get a refund ($160). She said she was sorry Nic changed his mind but wouldn't give a refund. So I told Nic and his immediate response was 'Oh OK I'll go'. I couldn't believe he was willing to go just so it wouldn't be a waste of money for us. But I said that his comfort was more important and he asked if there was a half day option.
Long story short, she, after several emails back and forth, agreed that he could come for a half day (but wouldn't discount that either ). Well, the first day of camp I picked him up at lunch time and he had loved it and the next morning when I dropped him off, he decided he might want to stay all day but wasn't sure. It took some more conversation but she finally agreed to let him call me at lunch time and let me know whether he wanted me to come get him or not. He ended up staying full day for the rest of the week and wants to do the camp again at the end of July, and I think in large part because he was comfortable having the option of leaving if he wanted to. Somehow, to other family members and even the camp director, it was like they thought he was being 'bratty'. Like, he shouldn't even have an option, it's all or nothing etc.
Anyway, we haven't had a ton of experience applying RU to the outside world as we are new to this lifestyle in the last 6 months, but we're figuring it out and it's nice to read how other people have handled things, so thanks for sharing!

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#138 of 161 Old 06-30-2008, 07:33 PM
 
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Granolapunk, that reminds me so much of ds' very brief school experience at age 4. He needed to know he could check in with me, wouldn't go in the classroom if I was going to leave the premises. So I stayed outside the classroom much of the time. The final straw, for him, was when the teacher wouldn't let him come out and see me after snacktime and locked the door so he couldn't get out. He escaped out the lesser used other door and refused to go back, having lost all trust in the teacher. Anyway, he still likes just to know he could get ahold of me if he needed to. It's really helpful for him to have me bring a cell phone when I go out and he's staying home with dh. It should be a fundamental right of a child to contact a parent at any time but it is made to be this trivial thing that is a huge inconvenience.

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#139 of 161 Old 06-30-2008, 07:50 PM
 
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It should be a fundamental right of a child to contact a parent at any time but it is made to be this trivial thing that is a huge inconvenience.
Exactly!

Susan -- married unschoolin' WAHMomma to two lovely girls (born 2000 and 2005).
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#140 of 161 Old 07-01-2008, 12:50 AM
 
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oh, wonderful! i'm so happy to hear the victory stories; this is just the sort of thing i was hoping for when i started reading!

i really disapprove, as someone who cares for other's children, of unreasonably restricting their access to the parents. (locking the door??!? what sort of lunatic thinks that's not a power trip?? *fumes*) but really, in a child-care center, for instance, you'd expect you could drop by any time to see your kid, right? with no restrictions. otherwise, you'd (rightly) be *really* concerned about what kind of care your child was (wasn't?) receiving. why shouldn't that logically go both ways? why shouldn't the kids be able to contact their parents when they want to? what purpose -- other than a power trip on the part of the adults -- does this serve?

oh, it's not 'convenient'. well. let me tell you that if i wasn't the one in charge of my own transportation, i would surely want to know what i was signing up for *for a whole week* when going away to camp. or hell, even renting a place for a vacation. that's a big risk. any rational person, of any age, would want to be assured it was worth that investment before proceeding.

i often stew about how few rights kids have. it comes up a lot in cases of domestic violence. if the kids' rights were recognized, so much less injustice would prevail there.
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#141 of 161 Old 07-03-2008, 05:13 PM
 
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Nobody want to talk about the RU aspects of this? Or the monopolization of a schooly approach to kids sports? Really?
I do!! I just had to wade through all the muck first, and I applaud you for answering the same questions over and over again!! now that I'm all caught up...

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I have seen over and over that kids have fun playing sports when they are well prepared to play and 'even' as a team. Having 1 or 2 kids who are below the average in terms of skill or fitness levels - really brings the rest of the group down. They depend on each other. If a couple kids run out of gas near the end of the game - then it's like the team is playing short. And that's not fun for anyone.
OK, for me, this is the critical difference. In playing "just for fun", it won't matter to any of the kids what the skill and/or endurance levels of the other kids is -- it won't matter because they're playing "just for fun", right? so it doesn't matter if they win or lose? what you're describing here is highly competitive team sport where winning and losing is actually the most important part of the game -- otherwise, who would care if everyone got a little tired towards the end of the game? if it's just for fun, everyone would laugh about how tired they were...maybe they might even decide to quit early , or reconfigure the teams so that all the kids who wanted to keep playing could do so, while the kids who had lost interest or stamina could go count flowers from the sidelines... the whole problem is that kids' sports (even playground pick up sports in a lot of cases) have taken on an inherent competitiveness that is inescapable, even when the goal is just "to have fun".

My daughter, bless her little heart, wanted to join the u10 soccer league here on our little island. the mantra of the entire league is that it's just for fun, everyone is welcome, and the coaches actually do a pretty good job of kind of guiding it in that direction. HOWEVER, my little one (who is 8, doesn't know anyone on the team, and was the youngest and least skilled) happily volunteered to be goalie in their scrimmage against the boys U10 team. All the other girls looked at her like she was a little crazy (nobody else was going to volunteer, because it's such a high pressure position) but the coach was kind of shocked and gave her big props for volunteering. My unschooled, non-competitive kid didn't think anything of it, and happily trotted off to the goal posts. Her team has several really great soccer players on it, so the girls were definitely outplaying the boys, despite not being able to score a goal. the boys got the ball, made it all the way down to where lucy was guarding the goal, and they scored. nobody said a word to lucy, but it was so obvious to her that they were all really disappointed in her. over the next few practices, she did her best, but really began to feel uncomfortable having less skill than the other kids -- I do think that if they knew her better, it wouldn't have been as much of an issue (though I'm not so sure -- the more competitive kids sort of set the tone for the whole team, I think, and kids can sometimes be ruthless), but they were not exactly making her feel welcome. She started to just not feel like going to practice every time it came up, and eventually I helped her come to terms with the fact that maybe organized soccer isn't really her bag. She started out LOVING it, loving the whole experience, but as her lack of skill became an issue, it just wasn't fun anymore, and was making her feel uncomfortable and she chose to quit. Loves to "play" soccer, but that's not really possible for her here, without subjecting herself to all the competitive BS that has become an integral part of kids' team sports.

The problem is that there are no "just for fun" organized team sports for kids. Ultimate frisbee is the very definition of "pick up sports" and even a kids' UF team can be competitive, because that's just how sad our culture has gotten -- there is no room for just having fun, because we're all bombarded with the message that winning is important, so it's no fun if we aren't able to play at a competitive level and triumph. I have heard of teams where the kids have a terrible record, never win games, but they have a great time, and I applaud those coaches -- there is probably a fabulous natural camaraderie happening as well, that makes the whole experience enjoyable, but the coach has a HUGE influence in this regard.

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You came here asking a question. And you have chosen to ignore EVERYTHING that people have said that didn't line up with your view of the world.
don't know if you're still here or not, but she wasn't ignoring anything, she just wasn't agreeing with it -- more accurately, like others have said, you (and a few others) were coming from a totally different perspective than where a person immersed in a RU mindset is coming from.

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I heard all the worry, now I want to hear about the resolution. :
once again, from a previous post of 4littlebirds...

The coach hasn't said anything to him the past two practices, so we may be fine -- my son is doing warm-up essentially with the jogging back and forth warm-up throws and the drills, and I'm thinking that perhaps the coach himself realizes that he's fine and it's just a control issue that he's decided to let go of.

...she did a fabulous recap, but I wanted to point out that little paragraph, just in case you missed it.

So, as a solution...I don't really know. It seems like the only way to have it be totally non-competitive and fun (and have everyone support each other, no matter their skill level) is for it to be a totally spontaneous event, like the multi-age softball game you talked about previously. which is, thankfully, more common in the unschooling world... our homelearning group (which is mostly unschoolers) meets all fall/winter/spring for a drop-in group, and on the last day, we had a "sports day" -- it turned out to be freezing cold (dang canada!!) so we all sort of huddled around while the kids ran and played. we had planned to do egg/spoon races, bike parade, sack races, etc. the only "organized" event that happened was a sack jump, where we threw a pile of potato sacks on the ground and the kids utilized them however they saw fit. they jumped in them at first (no racing involved), then they climbed all the way in them and one of the dads picked them up in their sacks and swung them around, then they put them on their heads and ran around -- we were all cracking up about the "unschoolers sack races" where you wear the sack on your head -- it just seemed like such a stereotypically "homeschooling" thing to do! In the end, I was so glad that we parents felt so unmotivated to guide their activities, because they had so much more fun just playing together in a new and different way. We almost made it a sack race, but thought better of it just in time...

anyway, I'm sad about it too. I think individual sports like circus skills, parkour (free running), martial arts, gymnastics, tennis, swimming, etc are better for kids who don't like the competitive aspect of team sports... and the team doesn't even have to be uber-competitive for it to be "competitive", it can be just the really subtle attitude that only kids who are competently skilled are really worthy in a sport for it to rank as no longer "just for fun". I love to see multi-age groups of kids just playing for the sake of playing, and I do wish that competitiveness wasn't so inherent in our culture, because it only takes a few "eye on the prize" kids to change the whole feel of the team.

and just to be clear, I'm not saying there is anything wrong with kids being "eye on the prize" or competitive, but there is something wrong with those kids (and their parents or coaches) feeling like the lesser skilled kids are ruining it for the others. Or, like in the OP's experience, that kids who don't want to just tow the party line instead of finding a workable solution with the coach, are somehow ruining it for others. They're children, for crimeny sakes, not professional athletes!

We're Tiffani , Mark , Lucy (9/99) , Dexter (8/01) ,and Zachary Marvin (3/07) and Naomi Rose (6/09), home 11/10, by way of Ugandan adoption.

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#142 of 161 Old 07-06-2008, 04:09 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Auntiehallie,

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Originally Posted by granolapunk View Post
I think what you did with/for? your son is great. Maybe it doesn't seem like a big deal but I think exactly what you did is the epitome of RU to me, I hope that my kids feel that supported as well.
Thank you.

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It took some more conversation but she finally agreed to let him call me at lunch time and let me know whether he wanted me to come get him or not.
Jaw dropping here. She agreed to let him call? Like it was even an option to not let him call if he felt the need for it?

Quote:
He ended up staying full day for the rest of the week and wants to do the camp again at the end of July, and I think in large part because he was comfortable having the option of leaving if he wanted to.
Yes, yes, exactly! Thank you for sharing that story.

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The final straw, for him, was when the teacher wouldn't let him come out and see me after snacktime and locked the door so he couldn't get out. He escaped out the lesser used other door and refused to go back, having lost all trust in the teacher.
Horrible.
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#143 of 161 Old 07-06-2008, 04:41 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My unschooled, non-competitive kid didn't think anything of it, and happily trotted off to the goal posts. [...] nobody said a word to lucy, but it was so obvious to her that they were all really disappointed in her.
I can relate, and not just in sports. It's a culture-wide phenomenon, isn't it? -- it's not okay to make mistakes or not be "great". And that's not a useful limitation, because who knows, maybe if your daughter had been supported in continuing to do what was most compelling to her, she would have eventually come to excel at it and it would have been a great joy to her (and valuable to the others.) Even if she never became great at it, perhaps she would have gone on enjoying it. But that's not allowed, not really. They "let" her in the name of being progressive, but their attitudes about it sent a very obvious message that in reality it wasn't okay with them. The bar is set too high so that only the elite can be comfortable participating in certain things. It's not just in team pursuits either. How many people don't do something they dream about because they're afraid that their way of doing it will be judged negatively (and they're likely correct in that assumption)? It's a sickness in our society.

Quote:
the only "organized" event that happened was a sack jump, where we threw a pile of potato sacks on the ground and the kids utilized them however they saw fit. they jumped in them at first (no racing involved), then they climbed all the way in them and one of the dads picked them up in their sacks and swung them around, then they put them on their heads and ran around -- we were all cracking up about the "unschoolers sack races" where you wear the sack on your head -- it just seemed like such a stereotypically "homeschooling" thing to do!
Ha ha ha! That's so great!

Quote:
I think individual sports like circus skills, parkour (free running), martial arts, gymnastics, tennis, swimming, etc are better for kids who don't like the competitive aspect of team sports...
Unfortunately the attitude that excelling and winning are everything isn't just in team sports. If you want to learn from others, it's the same sort of thing. When I took piano lessons, for instance, it couldn't be just for my personal enjoyment, no. I had to be working toward progressing according to what the teacher thought appropriate, and the goal was individual competition and performance. I took lessons for 12 years, because I was in a schooly sub-culture, and well, that's just what you do. You can't just "do" piano without taking lessons, and you can't take lessons without agreeing to focus on achievement. Having had this attitude instilled in me from an early age, I still struggle with it. I wouldn't have just offered up to play goalie like your daughter -- I would have waited to be deemed capable by an authority figure.
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#144 of 161 Old 07-07-2008, 08:07 PM
 
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I'm sorry I couldn't read the whole thread, but I couldn't help but chime in. As someone who grew up playing competitive sports, I totally agree with the OP on your assessment of team sports. It was fun when I started, but in the end it was something that made me miserable. I was too scared to quit because it was all I knew since age 6 besides school. As it got more and more important to win through the years, it just wasn't fun anymore. I think that negative aspect has really affected me as an adult. The competitiveness that I still have holds me back in a lot of ways. I worked as a soccer coach of U10 girls while in college, and when I think back to how I was as a coach, it almost makes me sick. I was probably even worse than your son's coach. Making these poor girls run warm ups as they struggled and hated every minute of it. Pushing them to win. Ugh.
Although, I think having had these experiences has been beneficial in some way because I know what it's like, and I've realized what I don't want my son to go through. I have no problem with him playing sports, if he chooses to, but I hope that I can recognize if it is no longer fun for him and maybe help him find something else. I wish someone had really helped me realize how miserable I was with all these sports and not just kept telling me what a "good job" I did or sit me on the bench because I was playing badly that day.
Anyway, I'm glad your son has had a better time these last two practices, and that the coach is realizing your son does better when he's warming up in a way that he continues to have fun.

Leslie, mom to John :, 02/25/06
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#145 of 161 Old 07-07-2008, 08:27 PM
 
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Leslie -- I've learned alot since becoming a mama, too!

Susan -- married unschoolin' WAHMomma to two lovely girls (born 2000 and 2005).
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#146 of 161 Old 07-07-2008, 11:17 PM
 
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Here's an interesting article I read about this just yesterday, and apparently there is a book too...

"MY best interest?...How can YOU say what MY best interest is?...When I went to YOUR schools, I went to YOUR churches, I went to YOUR institutional learning facilities."-ST
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#147 of 161 Old 07-09-2008, 09:24 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you so much for your input, Leslie. Do you remember what it was that changed your perspective?

Water, thanks for the link! I do find it irritating that we seemingly can't hear about the value of exercise for all people without it being made into a fat issue in particular, with all that's implied with that, but there are some good points in line with what we've been talking about here:
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Grade-school travel teams don't reliably identify future stars but instead reward early bloomers and discourage other kids and leave them behind. Result: Kids quit.
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Unstructured play is often more valuable than organized competition because it develops creativity. However, the emphasis is on adult-supervised teams and often the teams play too many games and over-emphasize winning instead of fun and skill development.
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#148 of 161 Old 07-09-2008, 11:11 PM
 
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That's a great article. We are not organized sports people, although we have done a *very* few certain things when coaches were respectful.

OP-- has your dc shared with you why he/she puts up with the coach's pettyness? I know none of my kids would have accepted the disrespect.
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#149 of 161 Old 07-10-2008, 04:42 PM
 
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Having a healthy environment for kids is part of why I opened a dance studio.

I was also just hired as the Head Coach of the local high school dance team. It was amazing to see how squashed their spirits are. Ironically, their spirits were squashed from not feeling like they were taken seriously and presented with the skill sets needed to get to the next level.

I have already made MAJOR changes to encourage teamwork, equality, respect, and healthy emotional wellbeing.....such as throwing out the possiblilty of not being in the dances. If you are on the team you WILL dance every performance. We will have a JV and a V and EVERYONE will perform. Last year they had to audition before every performance. Some dancers went to every practice, game, and competition and still NEVER danced. They were made to wear their costume and full makeup/hair (performance attire) and sit in the front row cheering for their team. Now....if you are injured and can't dance....wearing your warm up and cheering is great. But to make these girls get in full get up with no chance to dance.......that is BS!

So....I am making as many changes as I can to make the team healthy and fun.

Sorry....may be off topic.....just can to mind as I was reading.

I guess my point is that I am not anti team really. I do not have a problem with "organized sports" on the whole. I coach sports and run a competition dance program. However, I am against disrespectful and unhealthy coaching. True team work means a collective effort which includes all members of the team. A good coach never forgets that. They are only one piece of the puzzle.

It is sad to me now days how many horrible coaches there are though

For me...it is all about being on the journey as these children find there greatness in this world. I am just blessed to be able to be a part of it. :

Mama to 9 so far:Mother of Joey (20), Dominick (13), Abigail (11), Angelo (8), Mylee (6), Delainey (3), Colton (2) and Baby 8 and Baby 9 coming sometime in July 2013.   If evolution were true, mothers would have three arms!

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#150 of 161 Old 07-10-2008, 07:03 PM
 
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Originally Posted by fourlittlebirds View Post
Thank you so much for your input, Leslie. Do you remember what it was that changed your perspective?
Probably a lot of different things changed my perspective. I think it first started once I stepped away from it all. Then I was able to see my life in a different light and realize what was so wrong with my life before. I think the biggest thing that changed my perspective was thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail when I was 22. My whole life changed from that experience. I was a very different person after that. I also met my husband on the trail, and he has also had a big influence on me, as well.

Leslie, mom to John :, 02/25/06
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