So, it's finally happened. As of 12:30pm yesterday afternoon, I became a soccer mom. A soccer mom. Seriously.
Last year, G really wanted to play soccer, but with my lousy work schedule of working Saturdays, I wasn't able to do it. On top of that, I just didn't have the money, as this was around the same time GH lost his job. I felt bad. My father harassed me for not getting G involved in sports. I felt worse.
This year when the soccer fliers came home, I was prepared. I made sure I had the money together, and was relieved to find out that soccer practice was on Sundays (even though I'm not working Saturdays anymore). I was prepared. I was ready. For one child at least.
When K brought home her soccer flier right next to the cheerleading flier, i figure if K wanted to participate in something, it would definitely be cheerleading. After all, she already knew some cheers, and absolutely WORSHIPED cheerleaders. So, when I presented K with both fliers and asked her if she wanted to join one of the teams, I was completely unprepared when she selected soccer.
"Are you sure?" I asked sceptically. She assured me that she wanted to play soccer, and showed almost no interest in cheerleading. I was pretty proud that my girly girl had chosen to play a more rough-and-tumble sport (not that I'm saying there's anything wrong with cheerleading mind you).
Later that night at dinner, I was talking to the kids about soccer registration, when K announced that she didn't want to do soccer any more. When I asked her why, she said her friend at school had told her that soccer was a boys sport, and she didn't want to play a boys soccer. She asked if she could choose cheerleading instead.
Resisting the urge to call her 6-year-old friend a disgrace to the women's movement and feminists everywhere, I calmly explained to K that soccer was every bit a girl's sport as it was a boy's sport. In fact, I told her, it was the only sport I had ever played on a team in high school. I also reminded her that we would always support her in any choice she made, as long as it was what she truly wanted. I added that it was o.k. to do things that other people didn't agree with, as long as it made you happy. In the end, I said it was her choice, and I wouldn't push her either way. After an hour or two of after dinner play time contemplation, K told me she wanted to soccer.
When you're a parent, sometimes there are moments that you just know you did something right. Considering all of the times you feel lost, helpless, overwhelmed, and just plain clueless, these moments are heady and powerful. Although this lesson in individuality and self-confidence will eventually be buried under layers of teenage angst and self-doubt, I hope this and other nuggets will remain like a buoy to keep my kids afloat into healthy, happy adulthood.
Yesterday, I brought the kid's to their first practice. I was immediately intimidated and overwhelmed by the amount of people that were there. My social anxiety went into overdrive, and instantly I began to panic about how fat I looked in my shorts, that the kids had older water bottles than everyone else, that I hadn't brought a chair to watch practice in, etc. I sucked it up and, after standing in line for days, I registered the kids. The man signing them up asked if it was all right if he put K on a team with all boys. Wanting to seem cool and easygoing, I said that was fine. And then I stopped myself and thought of K and her insecurity. I said, on second thought, I'd like K to be on a team with some other girls. He switched her, and she ended up on the pink team, where even the boys wear pink team shirts. I was thrilled, and I knew K was far more comfortable on that team. As pro equality/individuality/feminism I was, I wasn't going to sacrifice my daughter's comfort, and possibly her chance at loving soccer for my cool points.
And she did enjoy it. And she looked like a real soccer player.
G's practice followed K's. G was so excited he could hardly contain himself, and threw himself into the drills with an enthusiasm, and total bliss rarely seen from him. I basked in it.
Unlike a lot of children with Asperger's, G is incredibly coordinated, and has always picked up physical activities with amazing speed. Seeing him enjoy soccer so much, and the way he interacted with the other kids just made my heart soar. It also made me feel incredibly guilty for not getting him involved in soccer sooner.
So, for my kids, I'll come to terms with the fact that I'm a real live soccer mom. I'll do the fundraisers. Go to every game. Tote the kids to practices with snacks and other gear. I'll even try to talk to other parents. Because as important as it is to be an individual, sometimes it's o.k. to be part of the crowd, especially if it makes the people you love the most happy.