Friday, September 26, 2008

Soccer Mom

We are not an athletic family. We prefer books over balls. Since I grew up in a family that enjoyed playing various sports, I'm not exactly sure how it happened, but it did.

When our oldest son turned four years old, we asked him if he wanted to play soccer. "No," he said. He'd rather read a book or look at things with his microscope. For the next two years as soccer sign-ups came around, we asked him again and he said "no" each time. So, we were surprised this year when he told us that he would like to play soccer. Delighted that he was willing to expand his interests, we signed him up.

He is seven years old and one of the oldest on his team. We love his team. It is full of friends from our neighborhood. We love his coach. He is enthusiastic, fun and seems to enjoy the kids as much as soccer. And our son really enjoys soccer too (he's not aggressive but tries hard and has scored a goal).

For the first four games of the season, we brought our camping chairs and set them up on the hill over looking the soccer field. We were joined by the other parents (our neighborhood friends) and by the doting grandparents. We cheered and encouraged our kids. We took pictures. And even though no one was "officially" keeping score, our team won each time.

And then, our team played against a team that seemed much bigger (could they really all be seven and under?). They were good and aggressive and they scored goal after goal. Our team's five-year-old soccer playing wonder scored our only goal of the game. I was nervous--especially when my son was put in as goalie. He did a good job and stopped a lot of potential goals, but it was a nail biter.

After the game, the parents assured each other that we wouldn't have to face another team like that. We'd do better next game. The kids were oblivious. They just like to play soccer.

Last night was game six. Our team took the field against another team of big kids. Number 11 from the opposing team took charge of the ball, dribbled it down the field and kicked it right in the goal. Again and again. Our kids tried. They tried hard. But they couldn't get the soccer ball past half field. The other team had great defense too. At the quarter, the teams substituted the players. Number 9 from the opposing team took charge of the ball. He kicked it over the heads of all the other players and right into the goal. Again and again. We lost count. I was stressed out the entire game and could suddenly understand why my high school friend's mom had to take Valium before watching his football games.

Was there some performance enhancing drugs used on this team? Were they in cahoots with the Chinese doctoring birth certificates? We (the parents) were starting to wonder. We (the moms) yelled so loud that my mother-in-law moved away from us.

Thankfully, a couple of our kids--the five-year-old wonder and another one each scored a goal, so it wasn't a complete blow out. The kids could care less. They had a good time and they got treats after the game. The parents comforted ourselves and each other with the familiar lines, "It's most important that they had fun"; "they'll do better next time"; "they're learning about the game and how to play".

But I don't think I can handle too much more of this. He's only seven. It will only get worse as he gets older and the competition gets more fierce (they actually start keeping score). Can we just go back to reading books?

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