I heard something pretty unusual last night and I liked it. It was my daughter laughing. I guess I hadn’t heard that in a while because it cut through the air with a happiness that made me stop a moment and take note. She just recently decided not to continue on the travel softball team she’s been on, not that that was such an easy decision because she really enjoyed it, but I believe the weight of that decision and the weight of all the practices and tournaments has been lifted and there is room again for childhood fun. She’s seventeen and not quite an adult so the last vestiges of her childhood are hanging on for her to enjoy. And I think she saw that and didn’t want to go another year forgoing her life.

The travel team was actually a lot of fun. The families in it were great because they came from all walks of life and we met people we otherwise would never know. And everyone was fun to be with. The girls were great because they worked hard, grew individually, played so well they won far more than they lost and made the long hours of tournaments a lot of fun for the parents. My daughter did well individually too, improving her positions, her hitting, her fielding, everything got better because she put in the time and took it seriously.

That might have been the problem in the long run. It was pretty serious. You had to make all the practices, twice a week, or explain why you weren’t there. Your excuse had to be approved, because it was, after all, a team effort. The tournaments were serious too because everyone was counting on everyone else to make it a win. This was a showcase team so girls were being scouted by colleges in hopes of getting scholarships, and several on our team did. But my girl wasn’t even sure she wanted to play softball in college.

So when it came time a year after joining the team to sign up again and start a new season she told us she didn’t want to do it. It was a hard decision for her to make because being on a winning softball team had a lot of good in it but she told us that even though it was fun, it wasn’t enough fun. Enough fun for all the hours she put in. She’d rather do something else with those hours. And it’s not like she would be idle. She still has marching band, academic team, pit orchestra for the school play, softball for the school team, volunteer work at a horse farm, and as she told us, time with friends. And all of this is in addition to her honors classes and applying to college.

So that’s what I heard last night that sounded so unusual…laughing with friends. She and her girlfriend were singing their heads off with karaoke in the basement. I am glad to see her having fun and relaxing and enjoying the last days of childhood. She’s been playing tennis, and baking, playing piano and walking the neighbor’s dog. She’s been playing cards with us at home and going out for ice cream. She’s had time to do things that before just didn’t fit in.

Travel softball was fun, but for her it was too much pressure. Too much working for something she didn’t necessarily want to work so hard at, and all in favor of having the time to just be a kid.