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The Game

April 18, 2010

Ah, Jake’s first soccer game was this weekend.

And it was awful.  Really awful.

First, it was rainy and cold, and the kid had a uniform consisting of shorts, short sleeved shirt and knee socks. My son is not a morning person (like me) and instead of having coffee, he likes to eat leisurely, watch a little television, and think about his activities for the day before committing to getting dressed. Since we needed to be on the field by 9:30am, there was no time for reflection. I bundled him up and sent him out there.

Warm ups consisted of jumping jacks. Jake just looked at the coach like he was on drugs for making him move so early. One of the cute little girls on his team thought he was retarded, so she ran over to him and showed him personally how to move his arms and legs. Still didn’t help.

Coach put him on defense. In the first quarter, my son watched the entire team race past him while he waved to the competitors. He kept turning the wrong way and guarding the wrong net. Never listened to the coach’s comments, just hung out on the field and waited for something. More rain maybe, so the game would be cancelled? I will never know.

Finally, in the second quarter, he walked off the field. Literally. Came up to the stands and sat in the stroller and declared he was done playing soccer.  This is when my blood went to the boiling point and I said to his father, “You take care of this!” I figured that father/son relationship would be a little better at kicking some ass in sports. But it didn’t work. We gave him the pep talk, the threats, and the lecture on teamwork. Near tears, this wonderful coach told me my child was completely normal, and that most children cried their way through their first games.

Of course, when the coach showed Jake a goodybag stuffed with candy and toys, and told him only kids who finish the game receives them, my son got up from his stroller and got back on the field to play the last quarter. Bribery is definitely my favorite tool as a parent.

That hour long soccer game felt like the entire Winter Olympics, I swear. I was completely and emotionally exhausted by the experience.

Am I just a crazy, obsessive parent who thinks about every step I make in this journey as if it will scar them or inspire them for life?  Why does soccer for a five year old have to be such a nerve wracking experience?  Why do I feel team sports is so important to his growth? When I was growing up my mother just told us there was no money, and to go outside and play and come back for lunch. In my generation, I don’t feel safe leaving my kids in my fenced backyard due to too many Lifetime movies.

Where the hell is the manual!!!!  Why didn’t anyone write a manual???

The good news? Bribery worked. He can’t wait for his next game because he is anticipating a new treat or toy.

I give up.

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  1. Terri says:

    Oh, this is wonderful! So hilarious. Jake’s morning sounds like mine! I must contemplate my game plan before rolling out of bed. Coffee. More coffee (in that, I apparently differ from your son), a leisurely limbering up via crossword puzzle, Twitter, Facebook, NY Times columnists…Time for Lunch!!
    So glad I stopped by. The blog is so clean and uncluttered and easy to read. (Unlike my mish-mash.) So hard to believe you have kids playing soccer already!

  2. Kimberly says:

    Don’t worry his reaction was quite normal. Last year Connor was pretty much doing the same thing in regards to how he played anyway. This year I’ve been told he thinks he’s David Beckman.
    It may turn out that Jake will never like sports. As someone who was accused of being “afraid of the ball” in junior high gym class I will be one of his staunch defenders. lol
    Then again he may surprise you one day.
    P.S – I’ll probably be seeing you out on that soccer field one day soon. I have to see Connor’s new Beckman moves. lol

    • jennifer121 says:

      Great! We can hook up and have some laughs and hang out on the soccer field – let me know which Saturday you are coming! And if he is anything like his mom who still has nightmares from high school gym class, maybe he can just read books as his hobby!

  3. Wendy Marcus says:

    Thanks to Terri for giving me your link!

    DO NOT GIVE UP!!! I, too, am a soccer mom, only I’m on the downward side of the slope. (Gave up the minivan two years ago!!!) All three of my children have played. My son (16) now plays on a premier travel team and for his high school’s varsity team. My youngest daughter (12) plays intramural but complains about the running. My oldest daughter (18)flat out refused to continue playing three years ago.

    I remember when my oldest daughter was five, playing her first season (at the urging of my sports-obsessed husband). One early November morning she looked out the window and cheered, “Yay. It snowed. No soccer.” To which my husband replied, “It’s only frost. Put on a turtleneck and some tights.” Bundled on the sidelines I held the hot chocolate and suffered my husband’s (the coach) wrath when my daughter ran off the field in the middle of a play for a sip.

    I have literally watched soccer in the swealtering heat and the frigid cold, through pouring rain, sleet, hail, and a swarm of bees. I have watched from my car, from under a tree, from ice cold bleachers. I peed in porta potties more times than I’d like to count.

    And you know what? I wouldn’t change a minute of it. Playing sports is important for children. While I’d never force them to play if they screamed and cried they didn’t want to, in my house, each child must have two out of school activities. If they don’t pick something else, at least one is soccer.

    Good luck!

    • jennifer121 says:

      Wendy, you inspire me! Now that is dedication. I love your image of a mom on the bleachers throughout the seasons – it is truly a family experience and something you remember for the rest of your life. But I really can’t wait to give up the minivan!!

  4. Nancy says:

    Very funny! I cant believe our ‘baby’ Jake is in big boy soccer now. I’m very proud of him.

  5. Aunt Mary says:


    I just love your blog. I can relate, because six of my granchildren have played sports, and Sophia had a dance rectial, which was a funny show. Jake sounds like Ryan and Bella. They were the funniest to watch, catching butterflys. So Uncle Al and I have lived through 6 of those seasons, after the 3rd or 4th one, I went by myself. Enjoy it, because it goes by so fast. Your cousin Michael played baseball and Uncle Al was his coach, and he couldn’t even let him play because he had no interest in it. Oh, parenthood is so hard!!!And very funny when you look back!!

    Aunt Mary

    • jennifer121 says:

      Aunt Mary, that is priceless – I can picture Uncle Al all excited and Michael not even caring. I need to tease my mom and tell her she needs to begin coming to Jake’s games since she is missing out on all the girls sports seasons!

  6. Kimberly says:

    Oops I meant David Beckham not Beckman. I hope Posh Spice never finds your blog. She is a soccer mom too though. lol

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