Our two kids, on the same soccer team. Practice at 8:30, games at 9:00. Six weeks. The four of us would head out to the soccer fields, watch our kids gleefully play with other children, forging bonds with kids in our neighborhood and as evidence of us finally beginning to put down roots in suburban community. After the game, we’d take the wagon and our chairs back to the cars, Jennifer heading to work, me taking the kids and maybe stopping somewhere for an early lunch before heading home to play.
THAT'S HOW I IMAGINED THE SEASON WOULD GO.
What really happened was that our kids spent the first several minutes hiding behind us with hands or fingers in their mouths, like babies, something they have never done. Then they’d manage to get out on the field and somewhat take turns with their teammates kicking balls into the goal. Just as the games were about to start, Mateo or Harper – or BOTH – would come to us saying they were tired, needed a break, needed a snack, wanted water.
Inevitably, as soon as the game started, neither would want to play. At some point, one of the coaches would manage to get one or both of them on the field, only for one or both of them to come running to us – crying – that they didn’t get a turn to kick the ball. It looked a bit like this.
You can practically hear him, can't you?
Makes sense if you think about it. I mean, their whole lives they’ve been taught to share and take turn...not that they've done that very well, but they sure did find a convenient time to be all "everyone should be following the sharing rules!"...s and then we change the rules with soccer and we’re all, OKAY YOU TEN KIDS, GO GET THAT ONE BALL! AND DON’T USE YOUR HANDS!
Then I broke my leg and had to have surgery and had to miss a game. Which meant that Jennifer took them on her own. They both played that day. And Harper even scored a goal. We thought we had turned a corner.
Until the following week.
Mateo played a very large portion of one game. Unfortunately, he mainly stood in the middle of the field looking our way. The mass of three and four year olds would tumble towards him and a few times I thought he’d get snowballed into the chaos and run with the pack. But no, the mass would move on and Mateo would still be standing there.
That’s when I noticed he’s actually pretty tall for a now four year old.
Last week, Harper had a great practice. And then spent the entire game on my lap.
At one point in the game, the opposing team had exactly one player out on the field. The other five kids were crying on the parents’ laps or eating snacks. I didn’t feel so bad anymore.
Saturday was a double-header and last games of the season, which they didn't notice one way or the other since most of the hour was spent in exactly this position:
The best part of the season for the kids? Trophies, cookies, and going home to swim. Can't say Jennifer and I didn't agree.