So, I am sitting here watching my oldest daughter play in her High School JV volleyball tournament. During her break, my mind wonders to my middle child, another daughter who is also playing volleyball, only for Middle School, just not today.
Middle School volleyball started with forty-nine girls going out. I say “going out” specifically because it was not “try-outs”. Any girl who wanted to play was welcome to play. In the end, they have three teams; two with sixteen girls and one team with seventeen. There is an “A”, “B”, and “C” team.
My daughter told me that many of her friends, or girls she knows, decided to play volleyball because their friends were playing, just to hang out with them, as a type of social event.
As a parent, I want all my children to be able to take part in all that they desire, but at what point in a child’s life do we tell them that maybe this is not their thing? When I say we, I don’t just mean the parents. I am also talking about teachers, coaches, etc.
Going into high school, where they hold true tryouts, most of these girls won’t make a team. At an early age, are we teaching them that if they want to be part of something, they can and should be included? Does this teach them to expect everything? Does this teach them that they don’t have to work hard and put forth the effort when they want to be part of something? That society will just be sure to include them.
What does this teach them? How does this set them up for future success? Better yet, how does this set them up to handle rejection, exclusion or similar letdowns?
I wonder if the older a child is before they experience their first rejection, does it become more difficult for them to handle it?
When excluded children have time to ponder what happened, they respond differently. Some just breakdown and cry; some shut down, while others lash out verbally. Worse yet, some harm themselves or others. Then there are those who handle it just fine, disappointed but are able to move on.
As parents, do we get too involved? We want our children to have it all so we demand from our schools and communities to include our children, that it’s not fair to them. In our eyes, our children are just as good as the next. Why didn’t they make the team? The schools and communities responded by adding more and more teams to include everyone.
It is fun and cute to watch our elementary children play sports such as volleyball. I have many fond memories of the three of my girls playing at such early ages. Of the three, one is a true athlete, able to play whatever she wants. Another one is good, but may be too much of an introvert for any sport that might require her to be aggressive and call someone else off the ball. Our third daughter, well we are not sure yet, maybe by middle school.
So, is middle school a good age where we should start to show our children that not everyone is able to be included and that maybe some are not skilled enough to do, well, anything?