Soccer mom – it’s what a lot of us strive to be – myself included. Ever since I found out there was tot soccer in our area, and Brogan expressed an interest in playing, I was pumped to get this title. I didn’t have great expectations for this 6-week “season.” I knew there would not be any real games, just “sessions” where the kids play, run and kick around a soccer ball. I was happy to ease into it all and thrilled to see Brogan in what I thought would be his element.
But what being a soccer mom has meant for me is embarrassment and shame. Trying to deal (unsuccessfully) with a child who does not listen at all. I’m talking not at all. So there are a couple of things here – I don’t think he likes organized soccer; he liked kicking a ball around at home; he liked watching it on TV. But he doesn’t like listening to a coach; he doesn’t like having to remain focused. I get it, he’s three. This is not my issue. The problem is that he, in repeated acts of defiance, runs off. And by running off, I mean runs into other live soccer games going on in the adjacent fields. By running off, I mean he goes and lies in the nets of said live games interfering with kids trying to shoot goals. And let me set the stage – the park where he plays soccer is the quintessential suburban-American soccer complex. There are 20+ fields; probably 5 games and +/- 10 practices all going on simultaneously. It is the mecca for upper middle class families to show off their mini-vans and SUVs and their stick people families (I have one on my SUV, so no judgment). So here I am, chasing after him, trying to act like I’ve got it under control, shouting for him to stop, using my I mean business tone, all to no avail. Sometimes I eventually catch up to him; sometimes it’s a ref or coach of another team that intercepts him. Every time I’m met by judging eyes and smug looks that are just screaming you’re an awful parent. I look around – no other kids are acting this way. What the hell??
He does this for Blake too. Blake and I were in this together on two Saturdays and then we’ve each had him solo. Brogan thinks it’s a game. He thinks it’s funny. I can’t tell if he’s doing this because he doesn’t want to be at soccer and he thinks this will get us mad and leave… or if this is just another outlet for his defiance. It could be all the attention and his endless desire to be the center of it; or the fact that the audience is much larger than he’s used to and that is freaking awesome. I’ll probably never know. What I do know is that it’s the first time as a parent that I have felt this sort of shame. Sure, he’s embarrassed me. But those are just one-off situations that typically don’t happen in front of the same people more than once. But this is recurring. We’re that family with that kid. We’re four weeks in and that means two more weeks of torture. Perhaps for all three of us. Blake and I feel we should stick it out (it’s only six weeks, after all). We want him to learn that when you start something you finish it, that you shouldn’t quit a team. He was the one who wanted to play soccer (before we started of course). And on the chance that part of his acting-out is because he wants to quit, we don’t want to reward his bad behavior. He’s smart, so we always have to factor in the potential for some good ‘ole manipulation. But I have to admit that part of me says forget it and we look forward to the next thing he wants to do – baseball when he’s four.
Becoming a soccer mom was supposed to be a rite of passage. But instead the experience has left me feeling pretty down on my parenting skills. As the saying goes, misery loves company; it actually makes me smile when I see other parents dealing with bad kids. It reassures me that I’m not alone. I know we’ll get through it – these are first world problems. I will try to look on the bright side.
And when someone sees my three-year-old playing tot soccer wearing a 20-foot leash, don’t judge.