It was an eventful weekend for the B. family.

Fridays and Sundays will be taken up by soccer for the next two months. Both girls have their practices on Friday evenings, and the league they’re in this year1 plays games on Sundays only, and this was the first week of games. C. is in the Under-8 league, and her team features three friends from school. Also, I am serving as an assistant coach this year, which could make it extra interesting. There are three really good players on her team, and C. and her pal E are both high-energy kids, so they kind of overwhelmed their opponent this week. We don’t keep score, but the margin was in the range of 10-1. C. didn’t score but was in the mix and took a shot in the stomach which sent her to the sideline for a few minutes. After the game, C. and her three classmates saw another classmate on an adjoining field and ran over to greet her when her game ended. I think they scared the crap out of the poor girl as they ran up screaming at her.

M.’s game was about 30 minutes later, so we headed to her field with the two families who also have kids on C.’s team. M. is in the Under-10 league, and likely the youngest kid on the squad. It seems to be mostly third graders, and since it is co-ed, some of the boys are beginning to sprout. The team’s coach also knows his shit, and while he coaches so the kids are having fun, he also gives them clear directions on how to play properly. It’s going to be a big switch for M., who played on more casual, all-girl teams the past two years.

She started and took a shot in the nose pretty early. There was joking amongst the parents about how the B. girls weren’t afraid to sacrifice their bodies for the game. She sat out for a few minutes and when she came back in, did her best to avoid the ball. If it sailed by her she stopped, put her hands up, and ducked her head. We were filled with parental pride.

If you’ve followed her soccer exploits over the years, you know M. isn’t the most talented player, but loves being on the field and being social with other kids. I’ll admit after I saw her team for the first time, I was a little worried about how she would fit in. Her skill level is well below most of the other players, she’s smaller and younger, and she’s kind of goofy. I wasn’t sure the older girls would be as receptive to her personality as girls her age had been in the past.

She tends to follow E’s big sister K around. They’re only six months apart in age, but K is a third grader and just had a big growth spurt, so she looks two years older than M.. Fortunately K doesn’t seem to mind M. talking to her all the time and each time I saw them on the bench together, K was chatting right back at M..

She settled down in the second half and had a few good moments. K scored a goal after M. did some good work in midfield. And the rest of their team rolled. Again, it was probably a 10-1 game.

My favorite moment came late in the game when one of the coach’s twin daughters had possession at midfield and no defenders close. A male teammate on the wing was calling for the ball and, without losing her dribble, she yelled at him, "Mikey, there’s no one on me!" and kept right on going. All the parents cracked up and about ten second later she slotted a goal home and turned and glared at Mikey who had the nerve to try to take away her scoring chance.

It’s that kind of attitude I hope M. picks up this year. I’m going to work with her to get her raw skills better. But being so young I think it’s tough to expect too much from her in terms of performance this season. I want to see her being confident and comfortable on the field. Sports for kids is ultimately about having fun and building self-esteem for the rest of their lives. M. doesn’t lack for confidence in most situations, but I think part of her problem on the field is a confidence thing.

A couple weeks ago I was rather pleased when I realized we had just about made it through a cold and flu season without having to strip any beds in the middle of the night and clean puke off the floor. I should have known I was jinxing myself.

About midnight last night C. came out of her room, wandered around looking for us, and unloaded in the hallway. Then she cruised around looking for us, tracking her mess up and down the stairs, around the hallway, and into our room. Cue 30 minutes of checking for wet spots and cleaning the carpet. I think it was just all the excitement from the day, and probably too many treats at soccer, that caught up with her. Or maybe delayed effects of that shot to the stomach. Because while we were cleaning her messes up, she sat in our bed acting normal and reading a book.

I guess it was inevitable.

  1. We switched them to a league that plays close to their school. We enjoyed the league we’ve been in up here where we live, but there were never any kids from St. P’s on the teams. And there were two complexes 30 minutes apart that we often had to race between for games. The new league plays in one location, on Sundays only, with four game times. It may not be as swanky as our local league, but it’s much more convenient.