Monday, May 13, 2013

Soccer Mom

I love Soccer Saturdays.

It's partially the poetic fulfillment of my true Mommy Self that I enjoy. I love getting the family ready on Saturday mornings. Loading up the car. Getting coffee. Standing on the sidelines with the other parents. I am now an actual Soccer Mom. With real soccer games and a cute little uniform and everything. (The uniform is for Lily, not for me. But if you think I haven't considered making myself a tshirt too, you don't know me very well.)I've been waiting for this for a long time. And I plan to enjoy every single second.

But Soccer Saturdays are about more than my rite of passage as a Mommy. They're just good entertainment. If you had a bad week, I highly recommend starting your weekend by watching preschoolers play soccer. It is impossible to leave in a bad mood. A typical "game" goes something like this.

9:00 The players arrive- most of them in the arms of Mom or Dad- in maroon jerseys. Soccer balls of every color dot the field like confetti.

9:05 Practice begins. This involves drills like "think of the ball as a puppy on a leash," and "don't touch the ball with your hands." They also practice defensive tactics  like "try to get the ball away from people wearing a different color" and "stand in front of the goal if they try to kick the ball towards it."

9:15 The "game" begins. One or two kids on each team who know how to play chase after the ball that has been selected as the game ball. Whoever owns this ball cries because it's HIS. Coaches shout advice like "no, the other way!" and "come back to the field, we need you!" Occasionally the whistle blows, followed by reminders like "don't touch the ball with your hands!" Every few minutes the entire game drifts over to the neighboring field. Sometimes someone scores a goal. Sometimes it's in the CORRECT goal. Parents cheer. The kid who kicked the ball jumps up and down.

9:30 Halftime. Players get water from parents. Some sit down, never to return to the game. Others get encouragement and reminders like "don't touch the ball with your hands" and "your goal is THAT one."

9:35 The second half begins. Parent conversations get more involved and drift further from the topic of soccer. Every dandelion on the field is picked and delivered to mothers. (Who have to hold the dandelion and keep it safe because it's special.) Two little girls who have been holding hands and wandering around the field together the whole game decide to rest in the goal where they can play tea party in peace. More goals are scored. More whistles remind players not to touch the ball with their hands.

9:45 The game ends. No one has any idea who won. (Except for the one kid who has been keeping track. "It's five to two!" he yells. "I scored four of our goals!" Everyone wants to believe him, but knows that three-year-old counting skills are not always reliable.) Parents encourage the kiddos with "Maybe next week you'll get out there and help your team play."

And the next Saturday, it starts all over again. It's hysterical and adorable and amazing. And while die-hard soccer fans may be bothered by the lack of skills and understanding of the rules, parents can see what's really going on. These kiddos are learning to play. They're learning the rules. They're getting exercise. They're taking turns and sharing. They're developing a community. They're getting a little better every week. They're being encouraged by their own parents and the parents of their teammates.

And THAT is what I love about Soccer Saturdays.


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