The Bruises Take Town Sports

And why I’m annoyed AF after the last fall soccer session.

Hubs and I have been talking a lot recently about how we would really love to meet more families and kids in town. Mostly because Luca is turning 5 in April, which means he’ll start kindergarten next year. We did Little Spartans soccer this fall as our first exposure. And the program was really good! For 3 and 4 year olds, but the coach still let Dominic play from day 1, even giving him a team shirt and everything. Each session was an hour – 30 minutes of structured play around the big skills of soccer…dribbling, kicking, etc., followed by 30 minutes of free play on all the little goals that were set up. Parent on the field with the kid was mandatory. No qualms about the program, Luca really enjoyed it and was super outgoing, always responding to coach and participating happily in the activities.

Yesterday was the last session of the season, so after the normal first 30 minutes, coach actually split all the kids up into teams, and they got to play their first “game”. Here’s where I’m hot and bothered. Not a lot of kids came to the last session because it was rescheduled from a cancellation, and rescheduled to 1:30 – nap time for lots of kids. So Luca’s team was him and two other kids, a boy and a girl. The team he was “playing” against was three girls. Now remember, I’ve never actually seen my kid play in a game situation because it’s always just been these structured activities. So I really didn’t know how this was going to go.

Wait for it…

Well, turns out two things: (1) Luca was fast as hell, like a lot faster than all the other kids, and (2) I think because he was on the older side of the age range he was a lot better than the other kids just due to coordination and development, etc. I’m not convinced he was actually that good at soccer. But he spent most of the “game” beating all the other kids to the ball, winning every challenge for the ball he took, sprinting down field on breakaways, and scoring goals. Case in point in the video above. You’d think that as Mom, I’d be super pumped for the kid – and I totally was! But I became self conscious when I started overhearing other parents and grandparents talk badly about the kid who kept taking the ball, scoring the goals, beating all the other kids. I found myself actively coaching my kid to let the other kids have a turn, and when he scored, he would look towards me to see if I was cheering. And he’d be utterly confused when I was just quietly standing there cheering inside my head but too self conscious to cheer out loud. “But Mommy if I score a goal in soccer you and Gammy are gona cheer really loud for me right?!?!” he had asked me a few weeks ago. At one point, he had the ball again (because none of the other kids were even trying to get the ball) and a little girl from the other “team” ran and just stood in the middle of the goal. The girl’s mom was behind the goal and yelled at Luca, “Don’t kick the ball at her!!” At least I’m pretty sure that’s what she yelled, but I could have been in such culture shock over what was going on that I misheard her (and if so, then I’m sorry for representing her this way). Luckily, Luca listened and just softly touched the ball to the corner of the goal. At the end, Luca even accidentally knocked a girl over trying to get the ball and we yelled at him, causing him to stop dead and cry in the middle of the field.

I didn’t actually say anything to any of the other parents. And no one tried to talk to me. It was like a mob, or maybe it wasn’t and I just felt this way because I was so self conscious and protective of my kid. I was so confused. Why was I embarrassed? Why did I feel like everyone on the field hated my kid? I wasn’t even able to sort out all my emotions till afterwards on my way to Target (because who doesn’t jump in the car and go to Target when you’re in need of therapy?). And that’s when it hit me. I was legit pissed. Screw the mom who yelled at my kid not to kick the ball AT THE GOAL. It’s SOCCER. How about you tell your kid to get out of the way if she’s not going to do anything? I know I’m angry and this is probably extreme, but what the heck. These were the people I wanted to try and be friends with?! Or the parents of the kids I wanted my kid to try and make friends with?! Better yet, the parents of the kids my kid will be going to school with?! The ones that actively were cheering against my kid and making comments to each other when they clearly saw I was within ear shot. Is this really what my town is like? I think I honestly would have felt a lot better about the whole situation if my kid was the one who sucked.

So now I feel badly that I didn’t hoot and holler and scream and jump up and down every time he scored a goal. Now I feel badly that I didn’t stand up for him when I started to hear other parents mumble. Now I feel badly that he would stop and look at me sheepishly and shyly every time he got the ball or scored a goal because he was confused he might be doing something wrong. And now I feel badly that I yelled at him for accidentally bumping a girl to the ground trying to get the ball and thus making him cry.

Man, if this is what town sports is really going to be like, I’ve gotta figure out a way to grow some thicker skin, stand up for my kid, and be loud and proud when he totally kicks ass. Yesterday I just felt like a panicked hermit crab retreating into her shell, and my kid deserves more than that.