Monday, June 24, 2013

Today's Choices Affect Tomorrow's Actions

It's summer and I'm still running around like a crazy girl.  One thing I'm not doing is homework or spelling.  I still remember when my youngest daughter came home from first grade with her spelling list.  She was an awesome speller and she diligently studied her words without any prompting from me.  I was one excited mom!  She not only had her typical first grade words:  man, pan, pen, and.  We would look for them in story books and she would find them long before I would.  She was thrilled to be learning.  As a mom (and a mom of five), I was equally or even more excited that she was eager to learn on her own.

Then one day, she came home with "college" words.  What?  Her teacher would explain more difficult words as they were not learning first grade words, but they were going to learn "college" words today.  The teacher was genius!  My daughter thought she was learning words beyond her years.  

So today, the college words of the day is "commitment".  I struggle with this word only because others around me struggle with it.  According to Webster's dictionary, the word commit means to obligate or bind.  So our college word of the day, "commitment", means the act of committing obligating or binding.  So why is it a struggle?

This summer my daughter's volleyball team will play in a national tournament.  It's the last big hoopla of a tournament and their team has never participated before this summer.  We found out six months ago we were selected to play in it and that our season would extend through approximately July 4th.  My daughter was thrilled and excited.  That meant extra practices during May and June, but she was committed to her team and wanted to improve her skill  level.  So she was on board 100%.

As practices began in May, I quickly noticed that her teammates were missing practices for a week or two weeks at at time for camps or family vacations.  Or they would miss a day here or there for this event or that event.  The whole team rarely practiced together and hasn't since early June.   It baffles me that we committed to this national tournament and everyone is picking and choosing when to come to practice as if it was optional.

Now, I fully acknowledge children can burn out and over commit.  I fully realize families need vacations. I understand exceptions occur. However, if you commit to something, then commit fully.  Choose another week in July or August for your family vacation or your personal camps. This commitment wasn't a surprise.  It's was planned well in advance and the club director fully disclosed that teams qualifying for national would continue practicing through the event.  Parents and players even signed an agreement that stated that national players would not miss practices unless for school events or other approved events.

When you don't fully commit, you let your teammates down.  It also teaches your child that commitment doesn't mean anything.  You can choose to what you want, when you want.  Is that what we want to teach our children?  I realize this is a team sport for fourteen year old girls.  However, what you learn as a child will transfer to your adult life.

As a child, my parents allowed me to quit piano when I didn't want to keep playing.  They let me quit jobs just because they didn't fit into my life.  They let me quit cheer leading mid-season so I could take driver's education.  My quitting continued as I believed it was acceptable as I could rationalize the decision.  I did have consequences.   No doubt.  I had consequences at that very moment and they carried on through college and into my professional career.  As an adult, I had to make a conscience effort NOT to quit things as I had learned when the going gets tough, just quit.  That's not the answer.

Now these girls are not quiting the team entirely.  No, they just decided that something else took priority.  They rationalized that their commitment to team wasn't important.  Something else was more important.  Will this be a learned behavior for them?  Maybe not.  It very well could have been a lesson I learned the hard way.  However, my girls take pride in their commitment.  So I am proud of them.  Life is about making decisions and choosing the  right path, not necessarily the easy one.

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