Another week of work and school goes by for you and your daughter. You pack the car with your things and her softball gear and hit the road towards the hotel. Whether it be a college softball camp or tournament, your dreading the drive, but eager for some softball. One minute she’s texting on her cell phone a bit and listening to music and passed out the next.

She’s learning to deal with her anxieties and fears right before your very eyes.

Your glad she’s resting, so she’ll be fresh in the morning. You’re already thinking about how little sleep you’ll get that night and the amount of coffee it will take to get your morning rolling. You’re hoping that she’ll have a great day, perform to the best of her abilities and make an impression on a coach or two.

You make it to the hotel, wake her up, get checked in and she crashes again while you’re staying at the imperfections of the hotel ceiling in the flicker of the television’s light. You blink your eyes and the alarm’s going off. You get ready, rush through breakfast and dash to the field or college. She’s fine. You’re exhausted as the camp or game begins.

Unless you’re just beginning your softball journey, you’ve likely experienced this scenario many times. If your daughter is between the age of 9 and 13, your hopes for the day or weekend are that she plays well, has fun or that her team is successful. If she’s in her high school years, you’re probably scanning the spectator area or field to see if any coaches are watching or talking to your daughter or her coach.

*Note - One phenom out of a million players may actually get the attention of a college coach at the age of 13. It’s not the norm. Quite simply, before the age of 14 your daughter is not being recruited. Your concerns for her during those years should be for her to learn the game, get game experience and to have fun (period). Championships are just icing on the cake.

The game or camp ends and your daughter approaches you with her gear. If you were at a camp and the coach talked with her, you are dying to know what was said. You ask, “So…?” She responds with, “Oh my God I am starving. Can we just go get something to eat right now?” And away she goes headed for the car. Congratulations. You’ve just gone from being excited and curious to frustrated and angry.

Some of your daughters may eagerly share everything with you, maybe even to a fault by over exaggerating her interpretation of her performance or the conversation she had with a coach. Some may make it sound like there’s nothing really good to discuss. “She said she liked my arm strength, but then told me a bunch of stuff I need to fix with my swing.” In the latter case you might dare to ask, “What exactly does she want you to change?”

Just a Little Patience

Now depending on your daughter’s personality and hormonal disposition at that moment in time, you may get a positive response that actually includes the answer to your question. Oh good for you. As for the other 99% of you, you might receive the evil or rolling eye treatment complete with a heavy sigh and hear some creative expressions under her breath as she walks away. Whether you need to look up what she said in the Urban Dictionary or already know, again you’re left with unanswered questions and discontent.

At this point thoughts begin to creep into your mind as to how you are going to extract information from this child. Are you going to use the psychological route or go right straight to Bad Cop? Society frowns upon strangling or water boarding your children, so you probably should avoid that approach. There you are, driving back to the hotel or home, contemplating your next move. It’s quiet. She’s tuned you out again with her head phones. “Whatever,” is about the nicest thought you have right now.

And then at some point in the future, whether 10 minutes or 3 hours or days, she finally comes out of her protective cocoon and speaks. You got one shot at this, so you’d best exhibit the patience of a Saint and just listen. Interrupt this child right now and you may never get the information that you’re looking for. She stops talking and you still have questions. As if walking on egg shells you ask that which is peaking your curiosity.

Wait for it….wait for it….wait for it. Inside you have a giant sigh of relief. She answered the question, but you have more. If you’re feeling lucky you might go for it and ask another question. You know full well that at some point you will exceed her limit and she will go into shut down mode again. Yea, you’ll probably hit that a few times during this process. That’s okay. Don’t beat yourselves up Mom and Dad. She’s a teenager, remember?

My Best Advice

Try to relax and be patient. You may be burning inside with questions, critical or ecstatic with her performance, feeling optimistic or pessimistic as to the reaction of the coaches or simply uncertain. If she genuinely played well you could give her a, “Great effort today baby. Love you!” Just don’t over do it as a humble child and athlete is a virtue.

If she didn’t do so hot, please do not try to sugar coat it by praising her. Consider instead your body language and keeping your comments to a minimum. Smile, tell her you love her and give her a hug (if it’s safe). That’s it. Let it be. Again, she’ll talk if and when she’s ready.

While she may never tell you (ever) or not until her playing days have ended, she’s almost certainly completely stressed out with the entire recruiting process. She is chasing a dream with no guarantee of achieving it. She’s learning to deal with her anxieties and fears right before your very eyes. In doing so she will make mistakes along the way. But, you’ve got to get out of her way and let her figure it out. The life lessons she is learning, albeit painful at times, cannot be given to her and are absolutely priceless.

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