I realized today that it has been a while since I shared an excerpt from my humorous memoir, A Dead Tomato Plant and a Paycheck. The following is from a chapter on soccer, a sport that dominated our lives for many years. Enjoy….
Long before anyone heard of Soccer Moms and Sarah Palin, I was spending several days a week at soccer games or schlepping kids to practice. For a number of years our lives revolved around the soccer fields and trying to make it to two or more games on a Saturday, sometimes scheduled only fifteen minutes apart and at opposite sides of town.
Three of our kids, David, Michael, and Dany, played regularly for several years. The other two did not enjoy soccer. Anjanette stayed with swimming and diving before getting into gymnastics and dance.
Paul made a valiant effort to hold to the family tradition and tried the sport for one year before deciding he just didn’t care for it. He tried baseball after that, and didn’t care for it, either, finally realizing he wasn’t really the athletic type, which doesn’t mean he wasn’t in shape. One year he won a Physical Training trophy in JrROTC for doing the most sit-ups in a minute – over a hundred. I’m not sure who was the most surprised, Paul, me, or the buff kid he beat out.
David was the one who started the craze at our house. He took to the sport like he was a Pele clone and played for two years before Michael made his debut. David has always been a good athlete, and he really liked the competitive spirit of the game, so the only problem he encountered on the field, was trying not to trip over the sole of his shoe that we tried to hold together with Duct tape. He was also lucky enough to start off on a good team, with good coaches, and they twice vied for city champs.
So I became a Soccer Mom before it was a status symbol. I loved to watch the games, and I usually ended up hoarse from cheering and exhausted from pacing up and down the sidelines. I never thought that taking an interest in our children’s activities would be so tiring.
As soon as Michael was old enough, he wanted to play, so we signed him up. On the way to his first game, he was very excited about his new soccer shoes, his jersey, and his shorts, and I started to wonder what he thought the game was all about. He asked me if I would yell and cheer the way I do at David’s games, and I told him of course, that’s a mother’s place in the scheme of things. But I’m not sure if the following fit the definition of cheering:
“Michael, kick the ball. Don’t just stand there!”
“Michael, get up! If you’re tired, your coach can put somebody in for you.”
“Michael, you’re not out there to pick flowers, you’re out there to play soccer.”
“Yes, Michael, I saw you kick the ball. Now get back into the game.”
“Michael, if the coach says come out of the game, come out. Don’t stand there arguing with him.”
And so the season went, with the kids playing what some of us called “chicken soccer.” That’s where all the players flock together around the ball and seem to move up and down the field in that cluster. Once in a while one kid would break loose and make a run at the goal, only to stop when the goalie said, “Stop.”
Obviously, this was not a team intent on winning a championship.