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Becoming a “real” soccer mom

September 18, 2011
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The hub and I decided to sign the kiddo up for youth league soccer this year (after asking the kiddo, of course). The kiddo seemed excited and even got some old shin guards and cleats from his big cousin to use.

He had his first practice last week, and everything seemed to go okay. He liked kicking the ball around, kind of understood the point of passing and even made a few goals in the “scrimmage” of the team vs. the coaches.

Of course, the coaches weren’t trying all that hard and his team is four little girls, another boy and the kiddo (who is basically the biggest one on the team).

His first game was this past Saturday morning. He seemed excited to play, and I even made muffins to commemorate the occasion. We got down to the soccer fields (a mere half mile from our house, if even that) on time and waited for the game to start.

After some confusion on where his team was supposed to stand on the field (they didn’t exactly cover that in their only practice before the game), the whistle blew and the game was on. The kiddo even got to kick the ball for the first move of the game.

But about 30 seconds later, the other team had the ball and was scoring. And then scored again. And then scored again.

It was obvious that the other team had had more practices, the kids understood the fundamentals of soccer (even at the Kindergarten level) and they were just fast. They were a good team.

I could see within the first five minutes of the first quarter the kiddo’s excitement start to fade and his face begin to fall. He was so happy during practice when it was easy to kick and score, but this was completely different. I tried to encourage him to try and run after the ball and kick it when he could, but he just seemed unsure as to what was going on.

When the whistle blew for the end of the first quarter, the kiddo came over to the bench and I could just tell something was wrong. I couldn’t get him to tell me (at this point he had started crying, which also set me off, because there’s nothing like your own kid getting upset to set a hormonal, eight month pregnant mom bawling). I gathered he didn’t understand why the game was so different than the practices. The other team just kept scoring. Their team never got a chance to kick the ball. He wanted it to be like practice. He was so upset he refused to go back in for the rest of the game, even though I tried talking to him over and over about having fun and trying your best and having to run and chase the ball to get it.

The kiddo is just a super nice kid. He’s competitive, but not at the expense of other kids. He’s also like me where if things don’t go how he thinks they should, he gets disappointed and he gets upset and shuts down. After trying to get him back out there to play four or five times (and him refusing and getting upset all over again), I decided I was just going to cheer on his team, whether he was playing or not. And by this point, enough kids on his team (there are only six to begin with, and four play on the field at a time) had just given up that the other team gave us one of their eight players to make it even. Of course, it was those kids who scored all but one of the few goals the kiddo’s team scored during the game.

The hub and I both agree that while this is going to be a difficult lesson for the kiddo to learn (sometimes things don’t turn out like we want or expect) it’s definitely a lesson worth learning. We’re not all for “everybody gets a turn” or “everybody gets a medal” because that’s not how the world works. Sometimes we lose. Sometimes we lose big. But we have to learn it’s not the end of the world, and it’s not fair to give up as soon as something gets hard or doesn’t go the way you want. That’s a lesson I still struggle with sometimes, even at the mature age of 32.

We want the kiddo to stick out the rest of this season in soccer (his last game is the second week in October). If he doesn’t want to sign up again for next year, that’s fine. But we started this season, so we’re going to finish this season. We’ve also talked to him a lot about trying his best, having fun and dealing with disappointment. I think his team definitely needs more practices – it doesn’t help that his coaches are two gals who don’t have any experience, especially in this league, whereas most of the other coaches have done this before. The hub, as resident athlete and non-pregnant parent in the household, is also going to work with the kiddo at home on running after the ball and not being afraid to get in the fray a little.

Yesterday was a rough day for us all. Hopefully this week will be better.

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