Here is my column from the Sunday paper:
How many soccer games do you have to go to before you become an actual soccer mom?
This fall, I’ve taken my son, Jack, to about four soccer practices and one soccer game. He’s 5, so it’s pretty low-key – they play games to learn skills, take frequent breaks to get a hug from mom or a sip of water. And get asked repeatedly not to climb the fence next to the practice field.
While that goes on, I try to corral our daughter, Viv, 2, who really wants to be in on the game.
“I’m going to do that when I’m all growed up,” she announced to the other parents this past week, as we sat on the grass and watched our boys tumble around the field.
Still, it’s been a learning curve.
The first challenge was getting the kids from daycare, home, fed and ready for practice. I’m not used to that kind of hustle after work – and neither are they. I think I spent the entire dinner time yelling at them to hurry up and eat. Well, maybe that isn’t all that different from breakfast at our house.
When I finally got them in the car, I parked on the wrong side of the field, and had to haul them over to their coaches.
And then of course Viv was restless, and I hadn’t thought to pack games for her. The playground is just far enough away that we can’t wait there while Jack practices.
But the most difficult part might just be the other parents.
Don’t get me wrong – they all seem very nice, and don’t mind the hundreds of questions Viv asks them.
But they all seem like they know what they’re doing. They have camp chairs. Coolers. Snacks. And on a recent rainy evening, they smartly backed their cars in, so they could sit on the tailgate out of the rain.
I didn’t even have an umbrella.
But we’re learning.
For the first game, I remembered camp chairs and a snack.
I did, however, forget the soccer ball. I didn’t know you brought it so the kids could kick it around before the game. I won’t forget again – Jack makes sure of that.
“Mom, you forgot my ball that day. Don’t forget it. We have to have it, mom.”
Got it, buddy.
I thought I was doing pretty good because I remembered to wash his socks the night before.
This week, I planned a quick dinner the night of practice – quesadillas, something I knew they would shovel in quickly because they love them. And I got us there with time to play at the playground beforehand. And Jack kept his promise of not crying when it was time to go practice and leave the slide. I was so proud of him.
Viv was pretty good – she took her camp chair and sat by the fence and didn’t try to pick up all the cones.
She did, however, drive many of the other moms crazy. She asked them a billion questions, played with one mom’s sunglasses and was generally 2.
Let’s face it, I’ve been pretty intimidated by the other parents. They must know that I know nothing about soccer, nothing about team sports (until they run track in high school) and am completely frazzled with the new stresses after-work practice has caused.
But instead of corralling Viv and avoiding all eye contact with the other parents – which I did the week before when I couldn’t back my car in because I’m an idiot – I tried to just relax.
Turns out, those moms are pretty nice. We might have a lot of years of shared soccer games among us, so it would be good to have a friend or two out there.
And if Jack doesn’t love soccer – which my husband hopes – we’ll try this again with T-ball, football, or my favorite, cross-country.
Jacqueline Palfy Klemond is the local news editor. She suffers from occasional bouts of extreme shyness. Very occasional.