The family has been trying a few new things lately. We have shed some negative influences from our lives and allowed some fresh new air in. Big Daddy Jeff has a new job, I’m returning to school, Firstborn is taking college courses in addition to serving in a truly life-changing internship, and the girls all have new activities.
Liddie Biddie was given the opportunity to play on a team with some classmates (four and five years old), and we took it. Neither BDJ nor I have ever played soccer, unless you count kicking a ball out of the path of the riding mower. ( I don’t either – we weren’t much help to her in preparing for the game.) Liddie’s team had one practice together, and their first game was this morning.It was great. Our little tiny girls did their warm up, and some of them acted like they had actually seen a soccer ball before. Liddie was one of them, yippee!
The game really wasn’t much of match. The other team was full of large specimens of those things we still don’t have at our school: boys. (Though one of them did really scream like a girl, long and loudly, when a bee landed on his knee.) It appeared as if their whole team had seen a soccer ball before, giving them a clear advantage.
Two of Liddie’s smaller teammates cracked slightly under pressure. ‘M’ cried in her Daddy’s arms, but since he was a coach, I guess she technically never really left the field. ‘R’ stood center-field crying “Mommy” (literally), while teammates hugged her (and the other team scored a gazillion goals in our unprotected net), until another coach grabbed her hand and ran her around the field chasing the ball. Our bench just wasn’t deep enough to allow mental health breaks. So tears and snot flying, our tiniest tot chased that ball.
Our girls apologized for taking the ball from the other team, when they did, and stopped to check on and help up fallen players, no matter side.
We did score twice, once by our star player’s feet (which was not Liddie), and once by an over-exuberant player on the other team, who had lost his sense of direction. I lost track of how many goals the other team scored. We are not supposed to keep track of those things in this league anyway, though every self-respecting parent was.
While some of the parents spent forty minutes on the edge of their seats, cheering and using words like “git-er” and “crush”, most of my time on the sidelines was spent trying not to laugh. I just couldn’t help it. Between the crying, the tripping, and the directional challenges, I found myself unable to ignore the humor in it all. My efforts left me with a sore bitten tongue, tooth marks on my knuckles, and pinch-marks all over my thighs.
On our walk out of the park, Liddie opened her hand and showed me something sweet: her collection of clovers that she had collected from the field … during the game. That might explain, in part, her lack of steely focus on the ball.
Some thoughts I would have loved to pass on to some of my fellow spectators:
1. One to none of these children will have a professional career in soccer. Let it go. If your five-year-old really needs to pop antacids like candy, perhaps you should find another activity. (Yes, I really saw this happening on the sidelines this morning – on the other team, of course.)
2. Bring tissues next time, and not the cheap ones. Bug spray might be good also, especially if your child has phobias about flying, stinging creatures.
3. Manners really do matter. They let you make friends in life, and isn’t that the real game?
4. Have fun. Revel in the experience of spending a Saturday morning watching strong, healthy, beautiful children chase a ball in the damp green grass. Enough said.