Our toddler was out of control. He didn't listen to us, couldn't sit still, had way too much energy. In other words, he was basically more than we could handle. "Send him to an organized activity," they said. "He'll benefit from the structure," they said. "He'll listen to another authority figure," they said. "They" were wrong, and to spare you the same nightmare, I'll let you know that sending your kid to soccer is a living hellscape you cannot escape (no matter how hard you try and, trust me, I tried).
When I was a little girl I wanted to go to ballet class so badly. I begged my mom to sign me up and, eventually, she acquiesced to my constant request. Of course, it took all of five minutes for me to decide I absolutely hated ballet. So, instead of "dancing," I hid behind a plant and wouldn't come out. The teacher gave all the girls a candy except me because, well, I wouldn't participate. My mom ushered me out of the room and took me home, stopping at the sweet shop on the way home to buy me my own bag of sweets. Suffice it to say, a distrust of organized sports (and a love of candy) followed.
Anytime you have 20 children under the age of five together, give them a big bag of soccer balls and tell them to go wild, you can expect trouble. That's exactly what we got when we signed our son up for Soccer 101, and these are the reasons why it absolutely sucked:
It Starts Really Early
If you already take your kids to daycare on weekday mornings, you might think you have the early morning rush down. However, add in all the equipment you have to lug around and the excitement that's now made it impossible for your kid to focus, and you're probably going to be late.
Extra curricular clubs all seem to have some sort of social aspect as well, so you're expected to bring snacks or coffee, too. If you're anything like me, your child's soccer kit is still in the laundry hamper from last week (and you forgot to pick up the muffins to share). This day sucks, and it hasn't really even started yet. Sigh.
It Ruins A Saturday
Isn't there enough running around and getting up early in the mornings during the week? Saturdays should be for unapologetic laziness and watching cartoons and playing, not forcing your kid into a soccer jersey and snowsuit combo, because its freezing outside. Why did I book this class in the winter, again?
You'll Compare Your Kid To Others
How come that kid is sitting nicely and listening to the teacher without interrupting, while my cherub rolls around on the floor making weird noises?Why is that little girl kicking the ball straight into the goal, and my son just tucks the ball up under his shirt and let's everyone in the general vicinity know he's having a baby?
Organized classes have you comparing your child unfavorably to all the other kids. It turns out, parents are way harder on their own kids when they misbehave than they are on some stranger's prodigy, so your kid can't possibly win this inevitably match up.
Your Kid Will Embarrass You
I spent the first soccer class contemplating whether or not I should just leave. My son was either hiding, rolling around the floor, doing the opposite of what was being instructed of him, or just generally being a little bit of a crazy person.
I found the whole ordeal so embarrassing, so for the next session I took my partner with me and we shared the shame. I also started to notice that other kids were misbehaving, or just doing their own thing, and their parents looked mortified, too. #Solidarity
Your Kid Might Hate It
After all the hassle of organizing the class, having the equipment and uniform ready, getting out of the house on time, negotiating the traffic and spending your Saturday morning in a drafty church hall or community center, be prepared for the very real possibility that your kid might turn around and say, "I hate this!"
You'll then have to decide whether you think its worth persevering, or just calling it quits. Children are so fickle; next week they may love it again, or they might actually hate everything that has to do with soccer. Good luck, mama.
Your Kid Learns Things They, Um, Really Didn't Need To Learn
If you're like me, and you're enrolling your kid in an organized activity with the hopes that it'll improve their behavior, be warned: it may have the reverse effect.
I swear groups of children will learn more bad behavior than good when corralled together. Our son seemed to gravitate towards a particular cheeky boy who taught him a few new rude noises and gestures. Clubs ,like soccer, also have a built in audience, which always seems to exacerbate behavior issues.
It's Freakin' Expensive
Extra curricular classes can be very expensive. If your child is not enjoying them or behaving like they are following a completely different curriculum, you'll probably find yourself wondering if it's even worth the money.
If money is tight, you could do what we did: ask for classes as Christmas presents from grandparents. At least you won't have to envision a wad of cash being flushed down your toilet, right?
You're Forced To Talk With Other Parents
Just like schoolyards, coffee shops and playgroups, soccer and other extra curricular activities are a great place to meet other parents. It's always wonderful to meet people who are like you in some way, who share similar values and attitudes about what it means to be a parent right now, and who are at least awake this early on a Saturday morning, too.
Unfortunately, you may also meet a certain type of competitive parent, who loves to brag about their child, puts other kids down, and generally behaves inappropriately. Try to avoid them like the plague.
In my experience soccer class was expensive, scheduled too early, wasted a weekend, was the perfect venue for my kid to behave like a little yahoo and get away with it, and was just a bit too much work for this mom. However, my kid decided he loved it after all, so guess what? We signed up for the next session. Pray for me.