Two years ago we bought Hannah a soccer ball and soccer goal and had visions of her instantly falling in love with the sport. I pictured myself the soccer mom cheering on the sidelines, carpooling a pack of sweaty girls from one end of the state to the other. That day she kicked her pink ball twice, ran into the house, grabbed a blanket, a bottle and a book, ran back out, and proceeded to wrap the ball in said blanket (she actually did a mean swaddle), placed it in her arms, fed it a bottle, read it a book, rocked it and placed it in the goal. Oh and then she blew it a kiss and said, “night night”. Tim put his arm around me and said, “there’s our daughter, the athlete”. Ok, I just realized that I already told this little story in a past post… sorry for the repeat but this one is going somewhere…
I realized after this happened that I may need to direct my efforts elsewhere in what might interest Hannah. I thought maybe drama or piano lessons could suit her better. Maybe she’d just be a book worm and learn French at an early age. All of this would be fine but I really always had such hopes that she’d be an athlete. I’M an athlete (or I was back in the day when I didn’t have achey joints, and a constant headache). Tim’s an athlete ( at least he talks a big game about his days on the football field, and basketball court). Our kids should be athletes right? It’s all that made sense to me. But, this putting-the-ball-to-sleep episode threw me for a serious loop.
And then Saturday happened. We decided to give soccer a REAL chance. Signed her up for a soccer team. Got her a real uniform. Drove 30 minutes for the league that we knew friends kids loved. Let me back up a moment to explain the uniform drama. There was only one store that sold this uniform so I went on a day that Hannah was in school to get in and out as quickly as possible. I was handed the reversible white/red jersey, black shorts, red socks and miniscule shin guards and without a choice I shelled out the $40. I was very anxious to show the new uniform to Hannah that night knowing full well that telling her she HAD to wear something especially something that had NO pink, NO lace, NO “jewels” and NO flowers was not going to go over so well. I worked up all the excitement I could find inside me when I showed it to her. “Look Hannah, isn’t it SO cool that one day you can wear white and the next (quick reverse of the shirt) you can wear red? And you know, white and red make… PINK!”
“It’s not pink though, it’s white and red. Why red?” she asked.
“Because that’s what EVERYONE has to wear. It’s the RULE.” I told her. “And look at these AWESOME shorts” I said quickly pulling them out of the bag and just as quickly putting them back in before she could realize they were (gasp) black.
“EWWWWWW!!!” she spewed as she realized they were black. “Black is so ugly!”.
“Well, Hann, if you want to play soccer, you have to wear these shorts.” I stated and that was that.
I was told she didn’t have to wear cleats although it was recommended. I usually am the first mom to go out and buy what is recommended for any occasion but when it comes to tight, ugly, black, stiff shoes that I knew Hannah would hate and complain about, I chose to stick her in her princess sneakers, knowing she’d be happier in the end. Smart, savvy shopping mom here.
This brings us to game day Saturday. She woke up excited actually to put on her new uniform. First the shorts. Whoever decided that these shorts that came down to her ankles were the right size for 4 year olds must have been on drugs. “They’re HUGE.” she sniffled. “They seem like pants not shorts”. Next the shirt which made the length of the shorts seem perfect since it came down to her knees. This actually made her happy since it looked more like a dress, bringing up the feminine factor. Next the socks which if I had pulled them up as high as they could have gone would have most likely reached her nose. I had to roll them over three times so that they would only cover her calves. And the heel of the sock was approximately at the backs of her knees. Perfect fit. And then there was the issue of stuffing these socks into the her princess sneakers. Let the whining begin. I didn’t know Hannah had so many vocabulary words to describe how uncomfortable she was. Somehow though, I was able to quiet her down for the car ride and as she walked on the field. I was sure that would be the end of it but somehow, someway she pulled through.
The field. The cutest thing I’d ever seen. Dozens (looked like hundreds) of 4-5 year olds spread among 12 teams, all in their far-too-large uniforms. All these kids with soccer balls up to their knees, running in swarms all trying to get the ball in the goalie-less goal. The first 20 minutes was spent naming the team (Hannah came up with the winning name “The Kickers”. The only other option was Philip’s suggestion, “The Nothings”), learning the rule of Getting the Ball In the Goal and being told not to touch the ball with their hands. They did a few little games to get the hang of kicking the ball and who to pass to and then it was Game Time.
I actually was impressed during the practice time that Hannah held interest for so long. Besides falling down three times on the slippery grass because she wasn’t wearing cleats (ok, bad idea savvy shopper mommy), she was able to dribble better than I would have expected and seemed to really enjoy it. I was pretty sure when the whistle blew to start the real game she’d get all shy and stand back as an observer but I Was Wrong! The whistle blew and there she went, running forward, ball at her feet and before I even knew what was happening she kicked the ball and scored the first goal! I jumped like a crazy mom screaming and cheering and wanted to run out there and put her on my shoulders and parade her around the field (but I restrained myself). It was amazing.
Pride. That is what pride feels like at its best. When your child does something that they may not be comfortable doing and does it so well on their own. Who knows if she’ll be a “soccer player” but she could be. She didn’t ask to stop. She didn’t complain (much). She had fun.
I was proud. And thrilled too that we saved all of those balls scattered about from a very early bed-time and not so beautifully sung lullabies.