Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Jessica is, well, unmotivated when it comes to extracurricular activities. She didn't want to play tee ball last spring, she doesn't want swimming lessons, she stopped karate after one session (8 weeks). Just like with school, these activities cut into her play time, and anything that cuts into her play time is a bad thing.

However, as parents do, Hari and I wanted her to participate in a team sport, not to earn future scholarships, but to learn how to work and play well with others, all that good stuff. Last spring I was talking to her friend Helen's parents and asked if Helen was going to be playing soccer. If one of her friends does something, she's much more likely to be willing to do it. As it turned out, not only was Helen playing but her parents were coaching and they told me to ask for Jessica to be on Helen's team when I registered her. So I did.

At least half a dozen times over the summer I informed Jessica she was going to be playing soccer in the fall. At first I got a couple of "okay"s but then I started to hear "I don't want to play soccer." Even after I reminded her she'd be on Helen's team. I was a bit nervous that my request wouldn't be honored but I didn't let Jessica know that. As it was, being on Helen's team was not as persuasive as it had been.

I agonized over what to do. I didn't really want to force her to play, because that really doesn't work well in this situation. I mean, I couldn't go on the field and push her foot to kick the ball. I was just about to give in and tell her she didn't have to play. I asked her one last time: "Okay, Jess, do you want to play soccer?"

"Yes!" she said, as if I were an idiot for having had any doubts about it. I don't know what changed her mind, but we went to the first practice and she had fun and was willing to go back. Mission accomplished.

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