Thursday, November 15, 2012

Being a Soccer Mom: Not What I Expected

Every time I get on here to write, I realize that it's been way too long since my last post. This time I have a legitimate excuse for my absentmindedness and for now, I'll blame it on the holiday season even though I know for a fact that it has absolutely nothing to do with that.

Back in September, I officially became a soccer mom as my oldest daughter (4) started her very first season of soccer. What my mom calls "herd ball" because at that age, they all just herd around the ball (which surprisingly wasn't the case for this team... there were several little girls with some real skill on the team!!!). For starters, I'd like to say "Thank You" to God for putting her on the team she wound up on. I think that this group of girls and the coach she got were exactly what she needed for her first experience with sports. Alex is my gentler child. She needs quieter nurturing and soft words and lots of vocal encouragement and that's exactly what she got. Actually, what she needed surprised the heck out of me.

At home, Alex will play soccer in our back yard, running back and forth for who knows how long with the ball, trying to weave in between the cones and score in the little goal we bought for her. We honestly thought that she'd be a star out on the field and that she'd soar through this season. I don't want to sound unkind, but that's not exactly what happened. I didn't expect her to be super outgoing because I know that (outside the house) she's quiet but I didn't expect her to be quite shy. I didn't expect her to cry and run off the field the first time she got knocked down in a game and I definitely didn't expect to have to constantly yell to her to turn around to face the game as she randomly stopped running and decided to take in the surrounding scenery. I was thrilled to see her constantly improving and bewildered at her constantly divulging information to strangers about who knows what. Putting it lightly, her first soccer season  wasn't what any of us expected, really. But I am excited to say that she had a blast, is bummed that this season is over and is looking forward to playing in the spring.

Last month, our son (3) started soccer as well. He participates in a clinic at the indoor soccer facilities. The smell of the place brings back memories from when I played indoor soccer in high school. Actually, now that I think about it, I must be where my son gets it from. I was there just to have fun (I had NO skill so fun was all I had going for me). I didn't take it all that seriously and was kinda a goofball about it. So is my son. In fact, so much so that often, I'm wishing the place were a sand pit and I an ostrich so I could hide my head in the sand. When my husband signed up our son, the plan was for the two of them to go together (it's a parental participation kind of skill building clinic) and enjoy some "boy time" playing soccer together. That first night, when I came home, my husband looked so forlorn that I thought a family member had died. Nope. He just spent 45 minutes alone with our son. As he expressed his frustration with our son after the ridiculous experience they'd just had, I wanted to laugh out loud (because I'd been there myself and was glad some one else now understood what I've been going through) and then wanted to cry (because I've been there myself and was glad some one else now understood what I've been going through). The next week came around and I offered to go with him instead. Not sure what I was thinking. This kid is a nut. For starters, he thinks the fake turf is real grass and he will roll around on it, stroke it, rub his face on it and smile like the Cheshire Cat the entire time. Then, when we're doing the relay races (in teams with the other parents and kids) his gooberish stubborn streak kicks in and when you tell him that it's his turn to go and that he needs to do it, he folds his arms across his chest and yells "NO"... while all 20 other kids wait behind him for their own turn. Or when the instructor says, "Parents, slowly dribble the ball down the field and kids, try to take it from your parent" I dribble and my delightful son runs behind me laughing and spanking my butt. This too, is not what I was expecting. Again though, I'm thankful that he has the instructor that he has because this guy is great with him. He laughs at him (when I'm trying not to cry out of embarrassment) and gives him huge high-fives when he scores a goal.

I'm told by other "soccer parents" that the first go around is always the weirdest or the most unexpected or, sometimes, the most frustrating. They've all told me that the second experience will be much different and rewarding for everyone involved. I don't doubt this at all concerning Alex. She has it in her personality to want to do better every time. To be excited about improvement. Anthony though... we'll have to wait and see. Is there a sport that you can play by yourself and be a total nut job? That'd be for him.

So, I'm looking forward to watching Alex play soccer in the spring. I am proud of her for trying and for not letting her fears get the best of her. Anthony... I'm looking forward to finding the right fit for him.

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