I know quotation marks are frequently over- and mis-used, and sometimes painfully so. But I really do mean “soccer,” not soccer.
Stephen and Adrian had their first “soccer” game at the YMCA this morning. It took the refs and coaches 30 minutes to line up 5 3-year olds facing one direction, and 5 3-year olds facing the opposite direction with a soccer ball in between. When they finally accomplished this feat of herding cats and blew the whistle to start the game, it was random chaos.
Approximately 4 out of the 10 kids understood the point of the game: namely to try to kick the ball into a goal (yes, a goal. Not the goal. No one remembered that you’re only supposed to try to kick it in your opponent’s goal). Of those 4 kids, only 2 possessed the ability to do this in any meaningful way. The other 8 kids just ran around and got in the way of the 2 kids who understood and were capable of kicking the ball in a purposeful manner.
Adrian, likely the unfortunate recipient of his mother’s “athletic skills,” was not in this elite group. He was in the majority that didn’t understand why everybody was running around, and where was his soccer ball? He played for about .07 seconds, at which point he and a teammate collided head-on into each other. The ball was nowhere near them. After the crash, he melted down and insisted that he didn’t want to play any more. He spent the rest of the hour crying and protesting as various adults (me, Eric, the coach, another dad) tried to cajole Adrian back onto the court, insisting it would be “fun” and his “team needed him.” He rallied for the last minute of the game and enjoyed hi-fiving the opposing team after the game.
“Thankfully,” he had another game the next hour. After all the hi-fiving, he was back in good spirits, and ran aimlessly around the gym most of the time, occasionally being surprised when the ball accidentally bounced off his foot, and running to me in the sidelines for hugs and hi-fives. He barely lasted the whole game, and when it mercifully ended, he happily hi-fived his opponents and collected his promised snack, which he’d been begging for ever since we arrived.
Stephen’s game went somewhat better; the 5 and 6 year-olds at least understood the point of the game and ran in a giant herd around the gym, following the ball. Stephen occasionally kicked the ball with purpose; usually he danced around the gym happily, unconcerned with the state of the ball or the game.
But as they say, the point is to “just have fun.” Stephen definitely had fun, and Adrian had about 50% fun. Maybe next time our goal will be to have 100% fun and we’ll just not worry about the silly soccer ball!