Sweat, Braces, and Love

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Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Adolescence, Advice, Communication, Confidence, Connections, Conversations, Growing UP, Life Lessons, Sports, Teenager, Teenagers, Women | Posted on 15-11-2016

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The question was posed in email by the head soccer coach to all of the parents: Can any of you help out this season? I need an assistant coach to help run practices and be at the games.

I can. But I will not.

I mean, I have other things to do. Like work, like family, like my own exercise. Surely, another parent can volunteer.

Then I thought: I have coached my daughter and son’s soccer teams before. I play on a rec team as an adult. I know a thing or two about the game. I do love to be around kids. Maybe it won’t be too much of a time suck: practice twice a week, one game every Saturday. And whaddya know, my nearly-14-year-old daughter encouraged me to coach. (That was enough for me to say yes right there…um, my teenager wants me there?!)

I’m in!

I filled out the background check and took the concussion test and sudden cardiac arrest test. I showed up to the first practice a little begrudgingly. I mean, it was still hot August and I could have been kicking back at home with Otis in the shade. Plus. So many teenagers. It was a little daunting.

A few fathers showed up to volunteer and then disappeared after the first practice. Looks like they are stuck with me!

I was warmly welcomed and surrounded by 17 young women full of chatter, giggles, hormones, and braces–as it is with 13- and 14-year-olds–and I was instantly comfortable. I made the right choice.

Within 10 minutes, I knew everyone’s name.

Throughout the season, I gave feedback, high-fived, shouted encouragement, joked, gave pats on the back, talked 1:1 on the sidelines. Assistant coaching was so much more than helping the players improve their soccer skills. I was a supporter, a listener, an encourager, a guider, a trusted friend (and occasional chauffeur).

Mondays, Wednesdays, Saturdays. Those were soccer days! A chance to make connections, be a positive influence, and build confidence.

Navigating life can be tough for young teenagers struggling with self-confidence, peer pressure, school demands, family issues.

Sure there were foot skills and dribbling, conditioning, building a strong defense, and taking shots. But there was oh so much more. It was a supportive team that built each other up. The players as individuals truly cared for one another. We learned and grew.

That Fall soccer season, I received so much more than I gave. I know for a fact that I was surrounded by sweat and braces, and love. #winning

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If You Give a Girl a Knife

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Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Adolescence, Childrearing, Children's Books, Confidence, Cooking, Daughters, Encouragement, Food, Girls, Mothering, Mothers and Daughters, Teenager | Posted on 13-05-2016

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When my daughter was three, we gave her a mini kitchen with pots and pans and bins of plastic food. Pies! Peas! Corn! Sushi! Cupcakes! Fried Chicken!

She loved everything about food preparation and serving. She would “roast” a fake chicken, “bake” pies, and “chop” floppy carrots. For years, she would prep and serve us at her cafe. When she was older, she would write menus for us to order from. And she would expect payment.

Now at 13, her time spent in the kitchen has lessened and her cooking is infrequent. However, if you give that girl a knife, she’ll make a fruit plate in minutes. She chops vegetables like a Kitchen Knife Ninja.

On the sidelines at a recent soccer game, I was talking to some mothers about daughters and their lack of interest in cooking. I told my “knife story” about how my daughter is a pro with a knife.

One of the Moms looked at me like I was insane. You give her knives?? That’s scary!

Um. Pioneer women sliced open buffalo with knives.

It’s not like I handed my daughter a knife and ordered Chop Now! It began with safety skills. Duh. Don’t slice toward your hand. Watch those fingers.

Kitchen skills are about teaching confidence, self sufficiency, survival. Kitchen skills are life skills.

I mean, what would she do if she encountered pineapple?

A photo posted by PeskyPippi (@peskypippi) on

A photo posted by PeskyPippi (@peskypippi) on

A Boy and a Girl on a Hike

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Posted by peskypippi | Posted in Boys, Childrearing, Children, Encouragement, Family, Life Lessons, Mothering, Nature, Parenting | Posted on 06-01-2012

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Say what you want about gender differences and gender behavior.

In addition to observing the changing leaves and the migrating birds, I also observed some differences between a girl and a boy on a recent hike:

We see a duck.

  • Girl: Looks for food to feed it.
  • Boy: Looks for a rock to throw at it.

We see a giant toadstool.

  • Girl: Thinks a fairy lives under it.
  • Boy: Wants to kick it.

They pick up sticks.

  • Girl: Hers is a magician’s wand.
  • Boy: His is a dagger.

But I appreciate and embrace their differences. After all, these two little birdies will grow and migrate some day and I want to give them proper wings.