Sunday, March 22, 2009

Soccer Mom

I was thrilled when all three of the kids said they wanted to play soccer this spring. We’ve been out of gymnastics for over a year (not impressed with the quality of the program for Abby’s age group) and karate for about 8 months (Elliott just didn’t want to go back after football was over L) and Ben is finally eligible to play and coordinated enough not to break a bone, so I signed everyone up. My hand only shook a little as I wrote the triple digit check for the enrollment fees, and when we got home I immediately went to the web sites looking for cheap kids soccer stuff.
Oh, and I signed up to coach Ben’s team.
Well, not intentionally, of course. I know how ridiculous I look trying to do anything athletic, and how little I know about soccer. I signed up to be a Parent Helper, which I thought meant cheerleader. Unfortunately no one else signed up to do anything, which I totally understand, so the little check mark I made by Parent Helper kind of got ignored. I can appreciate the situation the coordinators found themselves in – they had paperwork on someone, why not just make her the coach? They subscribe to my favorite axiom, which is that it’s easier to ask forgiveness than permission.
I realized, after a little self-examination and some desperate questions to the coordinator, that this would be okay. There are two other boys and two little girls on Ben’s team, and three are first time players. At this age, they mostly just kick the ball up and down the field and try to avoid running into each other… or not. It’s more comical than competitive, and more fun for everyone.
I had to get approved by the state Youth Soccer Association first, and that involved a questionnaire online, a criminal background check, a couple of coaches’ meetings and an evening clinic.
There were several moms and lots of dads at the clinic, more than 50 of us crammed into a small conference room one evening, and to my surprise the State Soccer Coach (yes, that’s his real title) had a giant bag of soccer balls and cones and yellow jerseys by the front table. Surely this wasn’t going to be a hand’s-on type thing, was it? I can kick the ball around with my kids but with a whole bunch of coaches watching my fat jiggle… wow, I don’t know about that. Plus I’d been drinking coffee all day and I wasn’t really PrepAreD to do any hopping or jumping or even reacting quickly (if you’ve had more than one child and know what Kegels are, you know what I’m talking about…). But this is only a three hour clinic and there are only 8 or 9 balls in the bag so perhaps there are plenty of volunteers for me to avoid any activity. I should have sat in the middle in the back (I didn’t because of the whole coffee thing… that’ll teach me.)
So Mr. State Coach bullies us through What Not to Do with Soccer Players - don’t make them run laps, don’t make them stand in line - and finally got to What To Do with Soccer Players (let them learn by playing the game). He’s a funny guy but I’m sure he was a drill sergeant, perhaps recently retired. He had a hard time not saying “what the hell” and an equally hard time substituting ‘freakin’ for the other f word. He marched around the front of the room, charging towards the front row when there was a point to be made.

“What do kids, 5 6 7 8 9 10 year old kids, what do kids want to do? Why do they come to soccer practice? To do freakin’ PE stuff? They don’t like the PE teacher for a reason! Why? Why? Because the stuff they do is freakin’ boring! Now I’m not coming down on PE teachers, but you coaches, you have a chance to do something fun! Not the freakin’ PE stuff, don’t make ‘em do that. You have a chance to help them play soccer! And they learn to play soccer how? How? How do you learn how to do something? How do you learn something new? Can you learn how to play basketball by watching a freakin’ video? No! You have to have the ball in your hands! You have to be on the court! You have to bounce it and run with it and shoot it through the hoop! So how do kids learn soccer? By playing soccer!”

Then he gave us a 5-minute break. When I came back (I wasn’t the only one racing to the bathroom but I was closest) he was instructing everyone to move the chairs against the outside walls. Some of the younger dads were bouncing a little like they really wanted to do something other than listen to Billy Mays Amazing Soccer Instruct-o-matic, and sure enough, the bag of balls got dumped on the floor. He had instant volunteers as those energetic few souls practically dove for the balls. I was just not that eager to show off that I can indeed stop the ball without falling over, so I stood off to the side and watched. They played Simon Says and some other games while dribbling and passing, and I got some great ideas for things to do with my team, so it was a productive workshop, and I didn’t have to kick the ball in front of other people even once.

Until practice a week later. That night I was PrepAreD, if you know what I mean, and we actually had a good time. The kids are really well behaved, one of the moms agreed to be my assistant coach (bless you, Kandice!), and the parents treat me like I know what I’m doing, so things are great.

Our first games were yesterday, and all three kids’ teams won. I think soccer may be the game for us – we’re off to a great start, anyway. We were at the park from 12:15 until 4:45 yesterday. I remembered snacks, water bottles, change of shoes, layered clothing, lawn chairs, and the camera. I forgot batteries and sunscreen, but really we all needed the vitamin D and the camera held out. Here’s the pictures – enjoy! J And think of us every Saturday until May 9th, lugging our stuff to the field. I promise to remember sunscreen.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Survivor: The Madison House

Well, we're all still alive. Even Don. When the first wave of boys arrived for the sleepover, the noise level increased and Don announced that he would be in the back room until it was time to get pizza. I clucked like a chicken, and he raised his eyebrows as if to say, "and your point is...?"

The boys had a great time, and I only had to turn into Mean Mommy a couple times. I learned last year that you have to explain the rules as violations occur because if you do it at the beginning of the party they are not listening to you anyway. Rule #1 - if you can't do it at school, you can't do it here, so dropping trou and farting on someone is not okay. Rule #2 - the upper bunk has a weight limit of three boys, and there is absolutely no wrestling up there. Rule #3 - You may not induce someone to pee during the night by sticking their hand in warm water. I do not want to wonder what the wet spots are in the morning. (I actually cannot believe this myth is still going around; some things never change.)

This year the legos came out quite early, so I can honestly say the boys got at least 4 hours of sleep. The politics of legoland were intense this year, and I got some video with my awesome new camera (thanks, mom!). You can hear some of the bargainning that I found pretty interesting (did you know that green helmets are more valuable than space backpacks?), and then the big event - the DUMPING OF THE TUB. Enjoy! :)

We did have a family event to celebrate the birthdays - Sunday was a Crown Center day with lunch at Fritz's Railroad Restaurant and shopping at all the cool toy and candy stores.

Elliott chose to spend some of his birthday money at the toy store. He bought more legos.