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Too Many To Count Two

Saturday, November 20, 2010

I am confused.

Hi. My name is Lana and I belong to a cult. Some people call it soccer, but I recognize it's true form.
What is up with this? We have run into this problem before. Our first experience with "cults" was SYA cheerleading. Where our then 8 year old and 11 year old daughters wanted to be cheerleaders for the little football players. Not being from Texas originally I had NO idea what was involved. What was involved was hundreds of dollars, two practices a week, a Friday night pep rally and then travelling to two games on Saturday. It also involved a little girl crying, every week, because she couldn't take the stress and a grumpy family because as much as we love, like, tolerate football we certainly didn't want to live and breathe it.
I don't understand why when kids get involved in an activity it has to consume the entire family. And frankly, soccer is kind of bugging me right now. Up until this year little b has played on regular recreational teams. This has meant we have 1 or 2 practices a week and then a game on Saturday morning. Really when you have a lot of kids that can add up to a lot, but no one forced us to have a lot of kids and so we solider on and try and let each kid learn and grow and try stuff out. It seemed reasonable.
This year, for some reason, we thought our 8 year old soccer prodigy needed something more. So we tried out for rec +. And he made it. And the whole feeling has been much more intense. We have 1 coach and 4 assistant coaches, who all wear matching coach shirts and stand on the side line, arms folded, faces serious, clip boards in hand, as if they were playing pro ball (and don't even ask me how ludicrous I think that whole thing is). We have practices, and now that it's dark rent fields with lights, at the expense of the families. Coaches get yellow cards, and sometimes yell at each other or kids on teams. Boys get VERY competitive. Last night we went to a soccer party, at a fancy restaurant, with glass goblets and table clothes (to the tune of $15 a person) and ate spaghetti (something I made the night before to the tune of $1.75 a person). There were speeches and toasts and the boys shared their highlights which sounded something like "I liked it best when I scored a goal", "I liked it best when Aaron hit that other kid", "I liked it best when Justin "shut down" Ulysses". Repeat. Repeat.
Today the boys are at an all day Kohls cup event. They are excited. I am sure it will be fun. E had to leave his friend Eric here to play with the girls while he went though, and was too tired to happily get ready.
As I packed his little backpack with 7 Gatorade bottles, and a bunch of snacks, and his back up jersey, and crocs for between games, and shorts in case it warms up, and a hat in case it gets colder I thought to myself that this was a little obsessive.
And you know the craziest part. Even with all that we are looked down on for not being involved enough. We won't play on Sunday. We don't want to travel to VA, or PA to play. We don't go to the extra "goalie clinic", and we complain about the cost and want to keep it down. The other families pity our poor boy and his non committed family. They are very nice, as they consider us freaks.
I know there are kids out there somewhere who meet on a dirt lot near their "houses" and with bare feet and a ball play a game of soccer. Are they having less fun than our boys, who groan when they get assigned to play at a field that is less than manicured (edited to keep my blog rating in the family range). I doubt it.

My kids lack meaningful work. They miss out on doing without, sacrificing for the good of the family, or community, and selfless service and we replace it with overindulgence, and all the fancy trappings of the world. (When I say my I don't meant just the ones I gave birth to, but the generation that they share) At whose feet do we worship?

I don't know what to do to fix it either. I have no field to plow, cows to milk, or community well to dig. We live in luxury, which Big B works hard to provide, and I work hard to keep clean. I want my kids to be happy, well rounded and contributing but when I look around I don't see that many kids really taking advantage of their many opportunities and rising to greatness. Maybe like a little chick coming out of it's egg kids need adversity to rise above in order to become extraordinary? Are they learning to work hard? To be creative and ingenious?To be content? To help others??

I am already dreading Christmas, which I love, because I know it will be a let down. H wants "a cell phone but she is not greedy, she will be happy with one that doesn't have a data plan; a lap top, real Uggs, and custom converse...only 4 things and she will be perfectly happy" she tells me. Lu wants an $80 dog that walks by remote control. She is 5. Come on. And the list goes on. When you have everything you need the things you want become ridiculous.

The inner conflict, I want them to have. I want them to appreciate. I want them to have their priorities straight...but do I teach them that?? do we live that? Can we have it both ways? Am I trying to serve God and Mammon?

and lastly, why do I have so much laundry all the time??


nikko said...

I feel the same as you on so many of these things. I grew up in a family with no money for extracurricular stuffs and while I did church YW and Girl Scouts, I always felt totally intimidated by my peers who were athletic or whatever and had been in soccer/dance/volleyball/gymnastics since they were 6/7/8. I feel like I want to give my kids opportunities to learn new things and experience sports and stuff, but I'm torn. Luckily my boys are pretty easy-going and not too "sporty" so we haven't run up against this with soccer yet. If K keeps playing, I know it will come and we'll have to make a decision.

I have the same inner conflicts, too. Let them "be kids" and have stuff they want, or teach them to do without? Or hopefully some happy medium of both.

I'll tell you, though, the no t.v. thing helps out with the "I want"s on the Christmas list. They never see commercials.

Lana, you're a good mom. I've always admired the way you parent. I'm sure you'll figure it all out and your kids will be fine. :o)

I have a good life said...

Wow! That is a mega blog. I didn't read what Kriste wrote, 'cuz I wanted to write my own thing-but I might repeat.

1) Lana-you are the best mom. I admire everything about the way you parent. Now, as I transition into a second marriage and the hope for more children that that includes, I am looking to your example with you having two sets of kids. You did it so seamlessly and so well.

2) It is sooooooooooo difficult to balance the worldly wants/needs and serving our Heavenly Father. But, you are doing really well. :)

3) The very fact that you are thinking about this shows where your heart is. My kids bemoan how they don't have IPads, etc., but I (like you) am trying to give them a better life than handing them lots of toys.

4) If you figure out how to help them not be so wanty, let me know.

Love ya.

Heather said...

I totally agree. I had to work for and buy everything I wanted including a TV, CD player and even my car and insurance. I struggle with wanting to get Blake all the cool things that I know he'd like and not wanting to spoil him.

Maybe I'm crazy, but I don't believe in kids having cell phones until *maybe* they start driving. I can't for the life of me understand why they need one when they spend all day in school!

I think it's appropriate for kids to work for/earn the things they want, then they learn (hopefully) what things are worth.

Not that I am the expert, Blake is only 2...

I agree that you are a great mom!

Caroline said...

I didn't have a cell phone until I was 18. I didn't need one until then. I survived just fine. And I didn't get my own laptop until I was 20 when I got it as a birthday gift/wedding gift. I didn't need one until then. I survived just fine. A trip to a homeless shelter might just put things into perspective. And a lovely little word I use quite frequently (to Davy's great annoyance): No. I put needs before wants with everything, Christmas gifts included. I always had to save up my own money for the wants; my parents paid for the absolute needs. I worked for everything else. Davy really wants some Star Wars stuff. He's been talking about it for days. I finally told him he could buy it when he has his own money. So he's been asking for work to do so he can get money to buy his Star Wars stuff. I think it is cute, but I think it is also a way to teach him bout responsibility and work. I hope so... We'll see how it goes. I sure am tired of the fits he throws when I don't buy him things at his every whim. :P

Tori said...

I think my greatest worry about living in such an affluent society is it creating "soft" people. We know from the scriptures that there will be some very trying times in days to come (there already are for some), how will we fare when we are so used to having everything so easily? And what does it say that we want, want, want? (I include myself in this.)

Here are some things I have seen/heard done to help keep ourselves and our kids grounded and grateful. Remember, this is not to be a scrooge, but to help our kids be grateful, giving, resourceful people:

1. No Christmas wish list. (Or only one item. Period.)

2. Immediate family members draw names for gift exchange and money that would otherwise go to gifts is used to help those who are less fortunate.

3. Only handmade gifts exchanged.

4. A family service project for Christmas.

5. Children get three gifts: something to wear, something to read, something to play with.

6. Kids don't make lists of what they want to get, but make lists of things they want to give in service to others.

7. Related to #6, a coupon Christmas. Everyone makes coupons for service to be rendered to others.

8. Grandparents are asked to give a family gift like a museum pass or tickets to a play or concert. No individual gifts. That can be tricky, but if you explain that you are trying to help the kids to be less materially-minded and more grateful and giving to others, less self-centered, how are they going to argue with that?

Maybe part of the problem is our love of giving. We like to give gifts to our children at Christmas, but that gift giving has backfired on us and created a kind of sickness in our society. There is such a thing as too much of a good thing.

Good luck!

Sandy H. said...


Q and I have been thinking about these same issues of late, and I found an article on about overcoming the sense of "entitlement" we seem to have. They had this link that we have been looking at and plan on implementing the "family economy" at our house...I hope it works!

Yvonne said...

Oh, the joys of parenting.

It's all about balance. I can tell you the more we give them when they are young, the greater the challenges are when they get older and can't get it for themselves. That's probably about the only thing I would really like to change about the way we raised our older children--I think we tried too hard to make up for things we felt they had to deal with when they were younger. The divorce was hard on the older ones, my oldest growing up without a dad, etc. I think it caused them all a great deal of problems and we watched them struggle while raising their own children. Hearing "no, we can't get that" is not a bad thing.

You are a FANTASTIC mother.

Yvonne said...

Regarding the laundry--one day, you'll be just doing laundry for your hubby and you and you'll be sad-REALLY, YOU WILL ; )