Posted tagged ‘Soccer Mom’

A Letter to My Son

October 22, 2011

Dear Daniel

It’s over. It was a heartbreaking loss in that second playoff round. You had some pretty awesome saves in that game. But it still didn’t lessen the fact that you were hoping for a different outcome for your senior soccer season in high school. Watching you stand at the goal when the buzzer sounded the end of the second ten minute over time, and knowing how you were feeling was the hardest thing I have had to watch since you first started playing the game. And soccer is a game that you have come to love with a passion.

You were just five when we signed you up to play in a 3 on 3 learning league. We commiserated with other parents about having to fit your first game schedule around the Saturday morning Kindergarten Round Up program. You loved the cleats, your coach, your jersey and socks and your team mates. You weren’t too crazy about that first pair of shin guards however. You were very excited about your very first real honest to goodness grass stain. And true to your pre-Kindergarten self, the best part of the 30 minute practice/30 minute game process was the snacks.

The following year we were in the midst of dealing with the massive paperwork process to complete your sister’s international adoption. When we didn’t hear from a coach about the start of your 5 on 5 learning league, I surmised that I might have not sent in the paperwork like I thought I had. I scrambled to find a place for you to play and you ended up on a YMCA team. You were one of two boys and a gaggle of girls. Your coaches loved you and your fierce kick. The entire team loved the game as much as you did. And after your first YMCA practice I got a call from your coach with the other program. Oops. I had sent the paperwork in after all. But, since they were two different programs with two different styles of training, we decided to let you play both of them for a while and let you decide which one you wanted to stay with.

Oy.

We should have known then what your future would hold. You stuck with practices or a game every single night of the week that spring and played for both teams without a single complaint. And you were only six.

From that point on our family life revolved around soccer. Soccer shorts. Soccer cleats. Soccer socks. Soccer jerseys. Soccer shin guards. Outdoor practice. Outdoor games….in the heat, in the rain, in the sleet and in the snow. Indoor practice. Indoor games….at varying times between 5 am and 11:30 pm. Ice packs. Ibuprofen. Heat packs. Ice packs. Athletic wrap. Athletic tape. Bio Freeze. On and on and on.

For the next twelve years.

From a parent stand point, the logistics of this passion of yours has been very frustrating. This was especially true after your sister decided that soccer was her game as well. Carting two of you here and there, using vacation times and vacation money for out of town tournaments, stopping for quick ‘fast food’ meals to and from practice sessions, dealing with stinky, sweat soaked shoes/socks/jerseys locked in our car all weekend, sitting on the sidelines watching practices, sitting on more sidelines watching games, critiquing coaches and referees and keeping our mouths shut – or open – as the situation called for it. Soccer parenting is not for the faint of heart. I don’t think ANY kind of sport parenting is.

And what do your Dad and I want you to take away from all of these years?

Mostly we want you to take away the memories. Memories of team mates that provided you with camaraderie like no other. Memories of times when you succeeded when you thought you couldn’t….and failed when you thought you shouldn’t. Memories of hot summer days when sweat poured from your body and yet you pushed forward. Memories of cold freezing days that energized you even more. And of course….the snacks.

And we also want you to take away respect. Respect for the coaches you have had that have shared their gifts with you. Respect for the coaches you have had that taught you to be the best that you can be. Respect for the coaches that have believed in you and stood up for you. Respect for all of the opponents that challenged you to give it your all. Respect for the team mates that have trusted you….and that you have given your trust.

We hope that you have learned that soccer – like life – is not a ‘blame game.’ That you will not always be able to achieve what you want or expect to – but that there is a certain fulfillment in knowing that you have given it your best shot. That when that buzzer sounds at the end of a game – or a day in your life – you can always say, ‘I did my very best.’ We hope that you have learned that you will need all kinds of people on your ‘team.’ We hope that have learned to value each of them for what they bring to the ‘game.‘ We hope that you have learned that everyone plays a part in your successes and shares in the disappointment of your losses.

We want you to take away a sense of self and self-esteem for what you have accomplished as a player….and as a person. You are someone with skills. You are someone that can be counted on. You are someone that expects the best in others because you know you will be giving the best that you have. You are someone that enjoys a good laugh….and a heart to heart talk.

And we sincerely hope that you find a way to continue with this game that you have grown to love – as a player or as a trainer or as a coach or as an official…..or as a parent. And if that day ever comes, we have some good, solid sideline chairs and an umbrella you can borrow.

We love you, son. You have made us very proud.

Mom and Dad

A Blogger’s Dilemma

October 13, 2011

It has been a while since I have written a blog entry. It’s not that I haven’t had anything to say. No. Quite the contrary. I think I had too much to say and too many topics to pick from. I could never decide what to focus on. Like, here is my dilemma.

Back in August I had planned to write about how I was living the life of my mother. Our tiny patch of three tomato plants and four cucumber plants had given us an abundance of fruit that we were unable to eat. I decided to can them. And pickle them. I had rediscovered a large blue canning pot that we had used for our camping club’s annual August boiled dinner. I invested in the jars and the pickling salt and the spices and the general paraphernalia needed to complete the job. I spent three very hot days/afternoons slicing and dicing and boiling and capping. And enjoying the unexpected little popping sound the lids made as the jars cooled and sealed.

At the end of August I planned to write about the preparations for my 51st first day of school. Yep. You heard right. I have been celebrating the first day of school as a student, a teacher and a parent for fifty one consecutive years. This year my first school day was spent at a morning rally for my school district’s teaching employees. We enjoyed reconnecting after the summer break with a continental breakfast before our district staff meeting. We listened to the usual rah-rah of the district’s welcome back message, accomplishments and plans for the upcoming school year. It’s a kind of familiar exhilaration to see familiar faces again….everyone was sun drenched and excited about getting back into the classroom. They were looking forward to getting to know this year’s crop of ‘their kids.’ But nothing made me prouder to be a HVS employee than the video presented to the district’s personnel by our new union president, Josh Gignac. I have worked on staff with Josh. I know his humor. And I know his dedication to his craft and the people he serves. He managed to put a lot of heart – and a few giggles – into his little video….and got a standing ovation for it too. PERFECT way to kick off the year. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aNyGN5boO6M)

And this thus my 51st school year began.

On September 11th I was planning to write about feeling all moved and melancholy about the 10th year observance of the fall of the Twin Towers in New York. Everyone was all ‘do you remember where you were.’ Yes. I do. I was in a Kindergarten classroom. I had accidently flipped the wrong switch on my CD player and the parents helping in my classroom heard a snippet of the news reports before I switched back to Dr. Jean’s ‘Alpha-size’ song. I spent the day – along with the rest of my colleagues – teaching school to kiddos who didn’t know and didn’t care about anything other than that the weather was beautiful and we were going outside for recess. At every possible free minute we were glued to television sets. I picked my children up at their daycare and went home to the television there to see the repeated news reports about the devastation in New York over and over again. My own children were seven and a half and six years old. They seemed oblivious to what was happening. Until the next morning. Suddenly my son seemed panicked and driven to write a ‘report.’ (His genius of a second grade Teacher had made report writing a privilege in her classroom. When students were finished with their work they were ‘allowed’ to search her collection of fact books for material to write about.) That particular morning he saw pictures in the morning newspaper and we were suddenly on a search for scissors, glue sticks, tape, paper and a stapler. He put together a simplistic recap. His report read simply, ‘Planes crashed. Buildings fell. People ran.’ And it was illustrated with pictures cut from the morning news. I helped him add the last page. I meant it be a calming force in his mind. It read, “The helpers are here.” The pictures he found for that page showed firemen and police officers covered in dust, people serving food and dispensing drinks…..and praying.

It was a master piece.

He took it to school to share and later in the day his teacher approached me in the hall to thank me. She said she had struggled all night and morning about how to talk to her second graders about what had happened. She’d gone through the papers on her desk and found my son’s report. It was perfect. A horrible event perceived through the mind of a child. A perfect catalyst to allow her students to express their thoughts and fears about what they were seeing and hearing all around them in the aftermath of 9/11.

And so now it’s October. Those second graders of ten years ago are now high school seniors. My son’s final high school soccer season is winding to a close. His last homecoming dance has come and gone. We are starting to focus on college applications. My niece is getting married soon in Gatlinburg, TN. For once we contemplate embarking on an out of town trip that does NOT involve soccer. My daughter tripped over another player in a recent game, injured her back and we are now dealing with physical therapy, CAT scans and a possible MRI instead of practice, tournaments and games.

So you can see my dilemma. We are still here. I am still writing. It’s the focus that’s the problem. Welcome to my life.

Sigh.

The Evolution of a Soccer Mom….finally!

June 5, 2010

Long ago – when they looked like this….

 ……..I was a reluctant ‘Soccer Mom.’  I wasn’t really ‘into’ the sporting world any more.  But I dutifully drove them to practices and games and tournaments.  I washed uniforms and stressed about grass stains and mud stains and the safety of cleats and headers.  I dutifully dealt with smelly shoes and smelly socks and smelly jerseys.  I dutifully provided the oranges slices and the juice boxes and the snacks when it was our turn.  I dutifully sat in the sun/rain/snow on the sidelines and rooted for goals and corner kicks and all of the ‘assists.’  I dutifully insisted on fair play and good sportsmanship and demanded that my children always listen to – and respect – their coach.  And I dutifully pretended that I understood and could actually SEE an ‘off sides’ call.  Heh.

Fortunately we have been blessed with good coaches who demanded the same sportsmanship and respect from all of their players…most of the time.  And that was a good thing because I……was a reluctant soccer mom.

Soccer is a year ’round sport it seems.  Fall season.  Indoor seasons.  Spring season.  Summer training/camp season. 

I was a seriously reluctant Soccer Mom. 

Don’t get me wrong.  I was very proud of my children.  Very proud of their interests.  I supported what they wanted to do.  However, I would rather have had them obsessed with something in the fine arts…..painting or drawing or dance or  instrumental music or drama.  Something that I had a vested interest in.

This spring, however, I have been enjoying watching my children play.  I mean REALLY enjoying watching them.  This is our 12th spring of soccer clubs.  I don’t think I have ever been involved in ANYthing ‘organized’ for 12 years. 

Seriously.

 But this spring – for some reason – their games seem more….exciting….and I don’t want to miss one of them.

I get to see them like this……

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 …..and it makes it all from all of those years seem worth while.  To see your teenagers pounding down the length of grass – working WITH others  – skilled and dedicated to doing their very best……makes it all worth while.  All the moves and the grooves and the kicks and the stops…… the fluid sprints and powerful strength seems….awesome.  Its been fun to see them work through their mastered plays and  frustrations and ……joy…. in doing something satisfying to them.  Its fun to see their excitement and satisfaction and enthusiasm when another team member achieves something they have been working on.

I am a Soccer Mom.

An enthusiastic Soccer Mom.  At last.

I am also dismayed.

This weekend is the last of the spring season games and you know what?  I can’t wait for the next round of games and practices and tournaments to begin. 

Seriously.

Now if I could just get them to pick up their own stuff once in a while…..or maybe clean their rooms???

Text Messaging

October 15, 2009

Its no secret that I fought getting into the cell phone racket.   Fiercely.  But, once I pictured my lonely little soccer player at a field not anticipated for practice and no way to reach his dad to let him know where to pick him up, I agreed.  Begrudgingly.  After all. why deal with another phone bill??  That was three years ago.  Heh.

Time to eat some crow.

We all have them now.  We recently shut off our land line because no one was using it anyway.  And the cell phones have literally changed our lives.  No one can hide from us now.  Hee hee.  Oh…except for the Prince who keeps his on silent 99.9 percent of the time.  The other .1 percent of time is reserved for things like football games when he is told that NOT answering a call or a text from one’s parents can result in removal of any and all cell phone privileges.  We still pay the bill after all.  Right?

While I knew the cells would make communication easier in emergencies, I never anticipated how texting would help my husband and I stay in touch.  Communicate.  Texting has been really handy as we are a two soccer player family.  This means games and practices at the same time in very different locations.   Take last Monday for example.

The Prince had a high school game at his home field, which means my husband – who is the keeper of the time clock for all the JV games – had to be there.  He sits up in the booth and handles the mechanics of the timer while another volunteer handles the play by play over the speaker.  A nice, warm booth.  Completely protected from the wind and the rain and the….snow?  I am generally in the bleachers during the games.  NOT protected from the wind or the rain or the …..snow.  This time however, the Princess had a game at another field 45 minutes away.  A wide open field.  On a gray, drizzily Michigan fall evening.  Heh.

Get the picture?

I was sitting in my chair with the other parents of her team mates – huddled under a flannel lined, water resistent blanket that we keep in the car for emergencies.  Since Princess had run out of the house without her warm ups or a jacket or a sweatshirt, I told her she could have the blanket at half time if she needed it.   Right…….

HIS game started at 5:30 pm.  Hers started at 6 pm.  It took a few minutes of settling and shivering before I was finally able to drag my phone out to check in with the hubby about the Prince’s game.  We actually talked.  It was not going well.  After that, we were texting:

Me: (6:21)  1 to 0….she just got a goal.

Me : (6:23)  2 to 0….and now it’s raining.

Him: (6:25)  Not here.

Me: (6:33)  3 to 0

Him: (6:34)  Cool.

Me: (6:35)  Still raining.

Him (6:37) Sorry……

Me: (6:38) Remind me to get my umbrella out of your car and put it in mine.

Him: (6:40) Alright.

Me: (6:42) And I think we need milk.

Him: (6:44) I’ll get some.

Me: (6:49)  4 to 0….she just got another goal

Him: (6:50)  Alright!!

Me: (6:53) Awesome….yours?

Him: (6:52)   6 to 1….losing

Me: (7:00)  Rats.  Hey…she scored AGAIN!

Me; (7:02) I am flipping FREEZING but she sure is HOT!

Me: (7:04)  Dang…they scored again!

Me: (7:07) She scored AGAIN!

Him: (7:08)  What??!

Me: (7:15) Final…8 to O

Him: (7:17)  Awesome

Her: (7:29) We won 8 to O and I got a ‘hat trick!’

Him: (7:30)  Cool

And THAT….is how we communicate.

Maybe

September 24, 2009

MVC-004SMaybe its because I still look out on a soccer field and just see kids running back and forth – enjoying themselves  and their sport…pushing themselves to the limit for the pure enjoyment of playing together.  Who cares about the game and the rules and the plays??  I mean, the boy has ONLY been playing the game for eleven years and  I JUST figured out the off sides rule last spring.

Maybe its because I have a hearing loss and am generally oblivious to the calls of the refs….and the taunts of players themselves.  I enjoy watching the expressions of the players.  Determined.  Focused.  Daring. 

Maybe its because I am a Teacher and deal with children learning and modeling behavier on an every day basis.

Maybe its because the Prince has had a rocky start as a soccer referee based totally on this particular fear.  

Parents.

And adult spectators.

Please.  I can get as enthusisatic as the next parent.  I can scream and holler and clap and cheer along with the best of them.  My kids are relatively good at the game.  And its fun to watch them play.  Its exciting. 

I know that I complain alot.  The early morning or late evening or far away games are a pain.  The cold and the wet and the heat are uncomfortable at their worst.  Injuries have become more frequent as they learn to kick harder – and more accurately – at each age level.  Goodness knows the cost has changed over the years.  Costs for coaching and camps and equipment.  But not the game.  The game has stayed the same. 

Watching little kids trip over themselves as they learn to get their bearings on a smaller soccer field is a hoot.  Catching pre-teens as they dance along the burbling limits of energy on a grassy field, squirt each other with orange slices that you paid dearly for and gobble down expected snacks after each game is a pleasure.  Enjoying the fluid motions of your teenagers as they come into their own in a sport that has become like second nature to them is pure heaven.  But that’s the beauty of the sporting world.

Something not so beautiful  happened last night.

I was sitting in the middle school bleachers with a friend whose child was sitting on the bench of the opposite team.  Our children were teammates with another club for two years.  It has been almost as long since we have seen each other.  What a nice surprise.  What fun to casually watch the game and talk about our kids and how things have been going for them since we last talked.  I was sharing the fact that we loved the new club.  That my child had made some good friends.  That the team had a real ‘family’ feel to it.   That they were a considerate and happy group of families.

Maybe I missed a few rough calls during our conversation.  I noticed that there had been some rather loud cheering after a goal.  I even clapped myself as MY child had been a part of that goal.  My friend had to leave for a bit but assured me she would be back at the end of the game so our kids would have some time off the field to chat before going home.  I was content in the bleachers – watching the game and waiting for my friend.  The next thing I knew the opposing coach turned around and told parents in the bleachers to quiet down or they would be asked to go to the other side of the field behind our team. 

What?  So now I am sitting with stunned adults who were used to cheering.  The next goal, they literally screamed…and stamped their feet on the aluminum bleachers….and whistled…..and cheered.  I was sharing the score with my husband on the phone at half time when our manager approached the bleachers.  Our parents were instructed to move off the bleachers behind the opposing team to the other side of the field for the rest of the game.  Disgruntled, they did as they were told.

Now, I was in a quandry.  I was waiting for my friend to return.  I hadn’t been yelling during the game.  I decided to stay put…along with another parent…..who eventually got up and moved to join our parent group a little later.   More goals…more calls….and the din from across the field was even louder and more….determined?   So I moved as well….off the bleachers….with a rueful smile at the small group of parents from the other team.  I stood at the fence surrounding the field.  And watched the rest of the game.   Watched my child and her friends.  Running, shooting, bumping…determination filling their faces.  All the while contemplating – and worrying – how my little ‘stance’ would be interpreted by the parents who had moved across the field. 

My child and her team mates won the game.  They lined up in the center of the field – as is the customary show of sportsmanship – to high five and hand shake the hands of their opponents.  I was so proud to see all of  our girls  race toward the bench to high five a player who had been injured as well.  Good sports.  GREAT players.  Short meeting with their coach and mine headed across the field to me…and to talk to the old friend.  As we headed back to the car, a mom from the bleachers stopped me to compliment the players on our team – and particularly my child – for their ‘talent.’   Said they played a very good game.

Now, I am not one to really listen about what players choose to say to one another on the field.  My children know that we expect them to be good sports in a game.  We expect them to treat other players with the same consideration they would anticipate for themselves.  We expect them to always listen to and respect their coach.  Luckily for us, their coaches have always been deserving of that respect.   My only interest in after the game talk is if they enjoyed playing.  If not, we talk about why.   My husband handles the logistics of the game…..all the whys and the wherefores of each referee call….all the moves and the plays.   That’s their thing with him.  I could care less.

I think that’s why the incident on the benches is so very troubling to me.  Why should a coach have to tell a team to ‘not pay attention’ to their parents??  Why would people who are paying for their children to learn and enjoy a sport choose to go beyond what they would expect from their own children?   Its troubling.

Maybe I missed something while I was talking to my friend.  I hope so because for me…..it’s still about the tripping  over the ball and the orange slice wars and the fluidity of teenage confidence and motion.  I am pretty passive when it comes to sports….especially kid sports.  Its all about having a good time.  I just don’t get the rage that causes conflict  there.

Its just a game after all.

Enjoy it for what it is.

Right?

A Soccer Mom Tale

May 25, 2009

Once upon a time when they looked like this….MVC-221F

soccer girl

 

 

 

 

 

and this…….

 being a soccer mom entailed having them at practice once a week in a clean generic uniform with the correctly sized ball, a bottle of water and an occasional bag of sliced oranges or end of the game snacks to share.  You didn’t mind because there were others and watching them stumble and get right back up was fun.  They loved it too.

They still love it.

But along came soccer shoes that were NOT part of a $9.95 package that included a brand new ball and orange practice cones.  Shoes that seemed to be out grown by mid season.  Several times.

And there are club fees, coaching fees, tournament fees, travel expenditures, coach travel expenditures (split with the rest of the team each time) and gas to and from multiweekly practices and games.  Lots of games.

And indoor soccer fees because soccer is not your average seasonal sport.  In our state, there is a fall session, three indoor winter sessions, a spring session and summer soccer camp (to stay in condition).

And bigger soccer balls with bigger price tags.

And uniform ‘kits’ that include a pair of socks, 2 pair of shorts, and a home and away jersey.  To this you have to add extra socks, shin guards, athletic tape (to hold the shin guards in place), equipment bags, practice tee shirts, athletic pants (for those slushy practices/games) hoodies, jackets, sweat bands, extra socks, etc.

And water bottles, sport drink bottles, water coolers, and more water bottles.

And time.  Time spent shuttling your players here and there.  Time  spent washing uniforms stained with grass, mud, rain and occasionally blood.  Time spent cringing and holding your breath as another player (always heavier , taller and bigger than your kid) barrels down the field with cleats on their feet toward your soccer loving child.  Time worrying about an injured player and being thankful that it’s not your child being carried off to an ambulance.  Time spent bandaging, ice packing, compress warming, massaging and soothing. Time spent cheering and clapping and hollering and analyzing and praising and placating and easing a loss.  LOTS of time.

But then you see a smile like this….P1020407 - Copy

 

 

 

 

 

 

and this……..P1020479

 

 

 

 

 

 

and this……P1020481

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and this…….

P1020485

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and it sort of makes it all worth while. 

Sort of.

And then you have to get back to the business of soothing and easing because the OTHER one missed out on HIS tournament weekend due to an injury (remember that mental picture of the bigger/taller/heavier player barreling down on your child….with cleats?)  A kick in the shin during a game and aggravated during a practice scrimmage three days later resulted in shin splints. Ouch.

But there is always next year……….so are we ready???

Uh oneah and a twoah and a threeah….

    WEeeee are the Chaaamppppions……”