I felt like a true soccer mom while I registered my son for soccer. I mean, I already had the minivan! It was finally time to turn it into a true Mom-mobile.
Maybe I could hand out orange slices or something? Or bring one of those giant containers full of sticky McDonalds orange drink, and set up a little refreshment table?
But then the coordinators started describing the kinds of cleats, shin-pads, and athletic socks I should buy — who knew soccer balls came in SIZES? — and my eyes started to glaze over.
What had I gotten myself into? More importantly, was it too late to back out?
I immediately pictured myself sitting in the blazing sun, swatting mosquitoes, and watching my four-year-old son play with dirt in the field — all while making sure my two-year-old daughter didn’t escape!
You see, I don’t have a good history with organized sports. I played T-ball when I was seven, and spent each practice — and game — picking dandelions in the outfield. When a ball rolled my way, I would either blink at it (and do nothing) or panic because I didn’t know where to throw it. Meanwhile, my baby sister played in an actual ditch. My summer as a T-ball player was not fun for anyone, except maybe my sister.
In junior high and high school, my organized sports experience consisted of being cut from the track team and the girls’ hockey team. Did I mention I was the only person cut in both instances? That should tell you something about my athletic abilities.
When I showed up at the soccer field for the first practice, I was nervous. My son had already done gymnastics and swimming, but never been part of a real sports team. I knew he wouldn’t suffer my fate of being cut — there’s nothing ruthless about the itsy-bitsy Timbits — but I wondered if he would hate it like I hated T-ball?
I found my son’s coaches — two lovely teenage girls whose combined age probably didn’t equal mine — and he was handed a black Timbits T-shirt. I was actually pretty psyched to find out black was the Panthers’ team colour — it matched the cute little shorts and cleats I’d bought him, and even coordinated with his new knee socks — er, soccer socks?
Each player needed a parent on the field with them, so that kind of makes me a real soccer player, right? I shuffled around with the other moms and dads, as our main purpose was basically to keep the kids on their own field — easier said than done — and somewhat engaged with a soccer ball. I quickly learned that kids are freakishly possessive over their shiny new soccer balls. No one wanted to kick theirs back and forth, for fear they’d never get it back. Sigh.
We also had to run little drills and warm-up exercises with the kids. I got a little caught up in a game of Capture the Flag, as I triumphantly ripped the flag from my son’s waistband — and then realized the other parents were pretending not to be able to catch their kid. That was a little awkward.
Throughout the hour, I was surprised by how well my son was doing. He was full of enthusiasm as he ran around, and even got a goal during their first practice game. My son, an athlete! My son, a member of a real sports team! I could feel myself becoming one of Those Moms — the ones who think their child is the next Sidney Crosby — and quickly kept my pride in check.
At the end, the coaches gathered the players in a huddle and attempted to teach them a simple cheer. Hilariously, the group of three- and four-year-olds took the cheer quite literally. When the coaches shouted “Go, Panthers!” the Panthers decided to “go” — and ran off giggling in all different directions.
We walked back to the minivan in good spirits, and the kids were eager to come back every Wednesday evening. I was already thinking about next week, too. You see, there was a mom there wearing a decorated T-shirt to cheer on her daughter, so of course I need to make myself one. And possibly a set of signs that say “Go, Panthers!” And maybe a megaphone? Hey, maybe this is my chance to finally be a cheerleader!
Wait, how old are kids before they figure out you’re totally lame and embarrassing?