March 11, 2009
The Once and Future Soccer Mom
My daughter, Fiona, went to her first soccer practice tonight and I don't know who suffered more: her or me.
Fiona is tiny for a five-year-old. Barely over 30 pounds. A light breeze could blow her into the next state. Seeing her lined up with the other 5 and 6 year olds, she looked so vulnerable. A good head shorter than the child on either side of her, she made faces at me on the sidelines to show she was staying positive. And I think she actually enjoyed the first 20 minutes or so of lining up and kicking. Then we divided into teams and the evening temperature began to sink into her bones.
I tried really hard to stay on my side of the field. Really. I meant to. But she was behind all of the other kids and the coach hadn't acknowledged her. I had to interrupt. "Sorry, coach, but are we on the right team?" Yep, we were and no apologies.
The soccer league I signed Fiona up for is a non-competitive league. No shouting from sidelines, no scores, everyone is rewarded with trophies and we all feel good about ourselves. Seems perfect for a 5-year-old who has never played team sports before. Then why, tell me please, were the boys on Fi's team wrestling one another and sporting their best aggressive stances and why, again - just asking - didn't the coach redirect their behavior? One child on the team is positively feral! Each child was asked to yell their name and kick the ball. Scary boy dropped to his knees and screamed, "E-LY-SIA," like he was Brando.
Then the confusion heightened. Coach sent the kids dribbling around the frigid field, each with their own ball. Fiona has maybe dribbled once or twice. By this time she already told me she was freezing. (I didn't dress her properly. Bad mommy. But the league website didn't give any direction about outerwear. It just said pants were fine, but shorts were preferable. I thought I was being conservative putting her in leggings!) Her hands were balled into her thin, pink jacket and her nose kept running. Once her ball rolled over a hill, I watched her quickly deflate. She couldn't get that dang ball up the hill. She kicked and it went further away from the rest of the team. I motioned to just pick it up and run to catch up. She picked it up, set it down, and kicked it further down the hill. One of us was near tears. Was it me?
Needless-to-say, we bailed. Fiona was shivering so hard, I just picked her up (and the ball, the team t-shirt, the list of games, my purse, oh yeah and my phone to call and repeatedly text my husband to get our toddler and head to the car) and stumbled across 3 fields back to the parking lot. In the car, under the team t-shirt and my quilted vest, with the heater on full blast, my girl defrosted and we listened to ABBA together. "Feeling stupid, feeling small. Wishing she had never come at all." Did she understand the lyrics, I wondered. Hope not. Of course, I could just be projecting my own terrible feelings about team, oh hell ANY, sports. I never played well and was always the kid practicing against the wall: tennis, volleyball, softball, bicycling (can you bicycle against a wall?).
Before we left for practice tonight, Fi asked me if she could call her preschool teacher, Mrs. Waldman, to tell her she was going to soccer practice. I convinced her to wait until tomorrow morning when she could fill her in on all of the details. I wonder if she will mention it now.