Let’s call it a mom lesson. Or a little wakeup call. However you want to describe it – this overconfident mommy got knocked down a peg or two after signing my 2-year-old up to play soccer for tots and just assuming it would be the easiest, breeziest, thing.
How fun! How cute! Yes, 2 is a little young for organized sports, but I had friends from church who’d done it with their boys and said it was the most adorable thing. I would be right with Wade the whole time, hopefully a little farther away toward the sideline each week, so it wasn’t like he would have to adjust to a drop-off. All I had to do was go online, find a convenient class and wham, off his little sports “career” would go.
Signing him up was almost like a rite of passage for me. I was a sportswriter in my pre-mom life. I played soccer and field hockey growing up. I’ve been around sports my whole life. I didn’t see this coming.
I got my husband to take mommy/son photos as Wade and I left the house last Saturday morning. I had big plans to post something on Facebook that afternoon with an action shot too. I was already writing the caption in my head, “What fun it is when a former sportswriter gets to takes her son to his first soccer practice….”
Maybe I should have taken it as a sign, that while I was smiling a big, silly grin in the picture, Wade was basically staring at the ground. He had no idea what all the hype was about.
Halfway through his first practice, that same little sweet face got covered in dirt. He had gotten excited about scoring a “goal” – which to him meant picking up a soccer ball and throwing it into one of the little nets – and when he ran back to me to celebrate he turned right into the path of another toddler. He went airborne and absolutely bit it. Thankfully, the other child was unscathed. But had there not been nice thick grass underneath them, Wade might have ended up at the ER. I was shocked he came up with only dirt on his face and not blood.
Then, in the middle of the field, while crying in my arms, Wade started repeating the word, “home.” My heart sank.
It was all I could to keep him at the practice. The coach was smart and got him to put some balls back in one of the ball bags, which he’d enjoyed doing earlier in the practice, but his excitement level was lukewarm at best. How in the heck was I ever going to get him back next week?
I’m not one to give in when it comes to wanting to quit something, or in a 2-year-old’s world, crying at drop-off at the Y, or church, or preschool. Luckily Wade rarely does. That’s probably because some veteran teachers have given me great ideas on how to prepare him for it.
Light bulb. I had done virtually nothing to prepare Wade for soccer.
When I told him he was going to get to play soccer a couple of days before the first practice, the first thing he said was “orange.” I was able to decipher, through my mad mom decoding skills, that Wade had remembered seeing kids playing soccer one Saturday morning at Freedom Park. He liked the idea of wearing an orange shirt like they did. He was disappointed when I showed him the soccer shirt the league had sent in the mail. It was gray.
I’d hardly even kicked a ball with him in the yard. I didn’t want to be that overbearing sports parent.
Wade had seen some Duke basketball on TV, and men playing pickup hoops at the Y. He’s watched a little baseball, when we have a day Braves game on in the living room. Outside of one morning at Freedom Park, though, the kid has never seen a soccer game. No wonder he was ready to bolt at the first sign of adversity, and about all he had to say the rest of the day about soccer was “I fell down.”
I figured I better try to turn this thing around in a hurry. After his nap, my husband and I took him to Target to buy a soccer ball.
We kicked it out in the yard once or twice during the week, trying not to make a huge deal about it. Wade and I ran together down a gravel walkway beside the fountain where he loves to toss rocks behind the Morrison Library. I DVR’ed a World Cup game and let him watch for the two, three minutes his attention span would allow. Then I sat back and held my breath.
Today we went back for his second practice. I’m happy to report that he did not put up a fight and he made it through. Now, his favorite part was still putting the balls back in the ball bag. And he didn’t like being singled out when the coach let the kids go one at a time to try to score a goal, but his mom appreciated it being a little safer than a bunch of kids running toward the same goal at the same time. Wade did manage to follow some instructions and kick two or three balls into the net before the day was through. And he left smiling, even if it was only to show his aunt and cousin his hand stamps and soccer sticker.
So hey, maybe we’re not shouting about it from the mountain tops on Facebook just yet – smile – but Mama can chalk this first soccer experience up as a lesson learned. My younger boys will surely be better off for it!