Posted by: heartfull | October 10, 2008

“The Mare” – kinda like Six Flags’ “The Boss” only with emotions.

At pick up on Thursday, Mare’s teacher Mrs. J pounced on me.  Her eyes were wide.  She breathlessly told me that she needed to talk to me and began to whisper, since Mare was standing nearby, that Mare’s reading has taken off.  She is going to pull her out of her special reading group and bump her up a few levels.

“I can’t believe it” she tells me.  “This is so great.”

I thought for a few moments and realized with sudden clarity, that I had been riding “The Mare” the last few weeks.  It’s a doozy and would certainly win some sort of amusement park award if at all possible.


Towards the end of Mare’s first year of  preschool, I sat in the conference with her teacher and listened, stunned, as the woman informed me, in a haughty way, that Mare couldn’t count four objects.  I looked at this woman, who I hadn’t liked the entire year, and decided she was in idiot.  Later that very same day, Mare was with me at Bird’s school’s Field Day and, during the course of a game, she counted out the 17 marbles she had just picked up with her toes.

Because she wanted to count those marbles.


When Mare was four we signed her up for a session of skating lessons at the ice rink.  She loved them and was skating circles around her fellow preschoolers within a couple weeks, fearlessly going from one end of the rink to the other while her classmates clung to the rink wall.

Ms. Susie sought me out and told me Mare really should be in private lessons.  She was impressed with her love of skating and enthusiasm, key markers since talent is so hard to identify at this age.  Unsure if I was doing the right thing, I forked out $25 a week for private lessons and it went well.  Until it didn’t.

Suddenly, I was forking out $25/week to beg my child to go do something that she had loved just the month before, and then sitting there watching as she half-heartedly went through the motions of working with her coach.

We said good-bye to the coach and I cried about the hundreds of dollars I had spent.


I was surprised when Coach R and Coach A asked Mare to be on a pre-select soccer team they were starting this fall.  I had seen little talent for soccer on her part.  But when I mentioned it, they said that she showed a lot of enthusiasm, was really into the game and her skills were pretty good.  Sound familiar?

OK.  Erm.  I still wasn’t convinced she should be there and I was worried about what would happen if she wasn’t good enough to stay on the team when it became a true “select team”.  Most of her really good friends were on this team and that reason alone would make rejection especially hard on her.  But as I watched her practice and play I could see that she was quickly improving, though never as good as the really great players.  Whatever – I figured if she could just be good enough to stay on the team, that would be fine with me.

Last week, I got the following email from her coaches:

Coach A and I have noticed Mary Grace loosing an interest in getting into the games and participating in training sessions. Is she saying anything to you about this? I would like to find time to talk on Wednesday. Are you available before or after practice?
Let me know your perspective,

Coach R

I was really upset about this because it was exactly what I had feared would happen.  Mare wasn’t good enough and this was their way of telling me.

John went to practice on Wednesday and watched the last 15 minutes.  He said it was painful.  Mare was having an awesome time with her friends.  But she wasn’t even trying to play soccer.  After practice Coach R talked to John about how they would be a select team soon and only had room for girls who really loved soccer, blah blah blah.

John and I were distraught about the whole thing.


When Mrs. J started telling me about Mare’s reading, all of these incidents started running through my head.  And slowly, the light bulb came on.  I understood that she had decided to start trying to read, just like she decided to count, when she wanted to and not just because a teacher was testing her.  And then I realized that she has decided to stop trying at soccer, just as she had done with ice skating.  But why?  She loves this team.   It did not make any sense.

Last night I laid with her and talked to her about soccer. I told her we had noticed she wasn’t really trying at soccer lately.  We could see that she loved the team, but that wasn’t enough in this situation and her coaches had noticed.  I asked if something was going on to make her quit trying.  She gave me a small nod.

“Well, you know how Ron could hear the Slytherins screaming “Weasley is our King” during his Quiditch game?  Well, I kind of hear that in my head when I’m playing soccer.”

This might not make any since if you haven’t read Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix.  If you have?  It might just break your heart.



  1. MG has always had an incredible amount of determination when she wants something. I think for us, the challenge is going to be in providing her with the confidence and tools for setting goals for herself (Which I think you do a great job at, btw).

  2. What a kid. When I was growing up, my parents quickly realized that while I was very smart and talented, if I was pushed then I would get my back up and get stubborn and refuse to do things. And that I had to WANT to do something in order to do a good job at it. SO, they parented me the best way they could, by letting me set my own goals and make my own mistakes and push myself where and when I needed.

    It sounds like you are doing a good job with her. She is just going to be the one who worries you the most as she bounces through life trying to find what makes her happy.

    HUGS to you. You are a great mom.

  3. […] teacher informing me that she qualified for extra help with a reading specialist.  As I posted previously, Mare quickly advanced to a higher level and I thought my worries were over.  Throughout the year, […]

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