You’ve gotta dance like there’s nobody watching,
Love like you’ll never be hurt,
Sing like there’s nobody listening,
And live like it’s heaven on earth.
— William W. Purkey
I… have a confession to make.
I am a soccer mom.
I don’t know how this happened.
Somehow, I allowed myself to be talked into co-soccer-parenting, but invariably I wind up being the one sitting on the sidelines at 8:30 on Saturday mornings. With my camera and my coffee. Yes, that’s me, with my giant insulated cup of breakfast blend that I brought from home, and also a latte I bought at Dunkin Donuts along the way. Two-fistin’ my caffeine, it’s the only way to survive.
This year is Cassidy’s first time playing soccer. She counted down the days until her first game. Constantly.
This same child, who can not be hurried; who will be given a ten-minute, five-minute, two-minute warning that it is nearly time to leave for the school bus— and then be revealed, shoeless, curled up in her bed reading the encyclopedia; who, upon being asked “WHERE ARE YOUR SHOES???!!” will slowly tap her finger upon her lips as if in deep thought and murmur, with great gravity, “I know I saw them somewhere…”— this child wakes me up before my alarm goes off at 7am on SATURDAY MORNING to remind me to get ready for soccer.
“Mom! What are you doing? There’s no time to brush your teeth, soccer starts in thirty-five minutes!”
Even more amazing, to me, is what this kid is like on “the field” (it’s actually a local school’s gymnasium for winter soccer).
How Jeff and I, self-admitted self-conscious losers and social misanthropes, managed to spawn this child is beyond me.
My daughter loves to play goalie. She dances and twirls in front of the net. She cheers for every bit of excitement that happens- the goal, the steal, the well-placed pass.
I have seen her pull out the Running Man, the Moonwalk, the Worm and many, many other dance moves of her own making while gameplay was happening at the opposite end of the gym. I cannot help but wonder at this ability to dance like no one’s watching… while perfectly aware that she has an audience. I was never so young as to have that sort of freedom.
The issue, of course, is that I have paid a surprisingly hefty sum for this child to play soccer, not watch other people play soccer and dance and cheer. Quite frankly, she could do that at home. (If we had cable.)
So, not wanting to dampen this immense freedom she apparently feels and I envy her for, I carefully explained that I love her enthusiasm.
But that the point of the game was to put the ball in the net.
I told her to act as though she were attracted by a magnet of unusual size to the soccer ball. The ball was to stick to her feet, until it reached the goal.
It’s always a mild shock when kids hear what their parents say, and almost unimaginable when they remember it a week later and put it into action. But she did. And now she’s in there, she’s dancing in the fray, she’s hustling, she’s making goals.
Five- and six-year-old soccer is the best. They’re not old enough yet to be planning plays, to be self-conscious about their abilities, to care about who wins or loses. There’s not a competitive bone in their bodies.
They cheer every time a goal is scored, regardless of who scored it. They help each other up when they go sprawling (and I have seen some spectacular kid pile-ups).
At our last game, one girl would yell to her parents, “I kicked it! Did you see me?” every time her foot touched the soccer ball. Everyone was delighted. I’ve never seen so many big smiles in one place.
At this age, it’s still a game. Something you do for fun. Remember what that felt like?
I love it; I wish it could go on forever. (Don’t tell Jeff.)
I just wish it didn’t happen so damn early in the morning.