Sunday marked the start of the eighth-grade Volleyball season with two home games, (an hour apart), which made rooting for her team very convenient for us. During their first 3-game match, the girls lost the first, won the second and then forgot they were playing a tie-breaker. The doll played a total of six minutes in the first two games combined but didn’t play at all during the tie-breaker. Afterward, she approached, upset with me.
“What am I doing here?” She asked. “I thought you were playing volleyball” I replied. “Really that’s what you called that?” She looked at me with much disdain. “Baby, we both know you’re a support, player. You are here to make your team better,” I said. Looking pointedly at me she said, “I don’t see how. They don’t play me, I’m useless and even when they do, I don’t look like I belong out there. Even when I know what I’m supposed to do, I can’t. I just suck at this game.”
Last Spring, when the time came for me to sign her up, I asked, “Are you sure you want to play–knowing you’re not going to “play” a lot of minutes?” Since this would be her final year of playing, she said “Yes”. But in reality, when you’re finally given the chance to play and it’s only three minutes worth, I understand her frustration. Even so she made a commitment to play, so she’s not allowed to quit.
Doll, you knew going into this season…” I began. “I know, but I would have been fine if you hadn’t signed me up” She argued. “If that’s the case, then why are you upset?” I asked before we both took a deep breath. “Listen, you want to play more? Then work harder in practice. Prove that you should be given more playing time…earn it. Otherwise, you have no reason to complain”. “Oh, gee, thanks mom for implying I don’t work hard at practice.” She shot back. “Doll, someday they are going to be two players down and you’ll be forced to step up and play a full game. The only way you’ll be ready is if you work hard at practice”. I reinforced. “Whatever,” she said with a breathy tone and then, given the hour break between matches, asked for concession money before walking away.
Right before her second match she approached me and said, “Just forget what I said earlier. I know I’m more of strategist than an actual player. It’s just hard to watch everyone else play sometimes.” “Doll you wouldn’t be human if it wasn’t” I replied caressing her right arm. “But I’m okay now”. She said before heading over to the team bench.
The second match wasn’t much different than the first one. The girls played well the first game, lost second and forgot how to play the tie breaker. The doll managed to log a few more minutes the second match, even serving and volleying a ball over the net. Afterward, while we walked home she said, “Well at least I hit the ball over the net…” “Yes and you served very well I thought”. “Yeah, they were going to put me in at the end to serve again, but we never got the ball back”. She explained. “Well, they must have confidence in your serve…” I offered. “Yeah, I guess”. She replied before changing the subject.