Soccer Oranges

Yesterday, I was introduced to the world of Soccer Mom’s. I had planned to write a pithy entry on some of the less then fabulous comments I witnessed, but upon further reflection, I decided it was best to practice the art of tongue biting.  I’m learning, I’m learning!

Although, twelve hours later, I am still slightly twitchy from the commentary that rang out in my ears. I thought, naively, that it would truly be another year or two until we would be be introduced to this breed, The Soccer Moms. My reasoning is that Potato is only four. He’s only four. Truth be told, I’m not ready for the competitive nature that sports take on, especially nowadays. Along with that, I’m most certainly unprepared for the parents that accompany said competition.

For various reasons, we opted to put Potato in the recreation league out of town. One was that the entire season  is outdoors, they do make up games, and the fee was astronomically cheaper. Even with the gas, it was still a better idea. Another plus was that Grandma and Grandpa could come and watch the “home” games. Potato loved the idea, actually, as it was his idea to play in the first place. 
Given our recent rash of events with him, we were legitimately worried about how he would take in the soccer world. We’re both “retired” soccer players so we had an idea of what he might be facing when he hit the field. The Hubby worried about the contact that is unavoidable in the sport, even though it is limited. Potato is not a fan of touch without his own consent. I worried about the feel of the shin pads on him, as I knew they would get a little sticky as the game wore on, meaning Potato may began to dislike the feel of them altogether. We both worried about how he would do with the team aspect, being a kid who hides in his own shell in new situations, with new people, even in his own age group. I knew, despite all of these things, it was our job to push his boundaries ever so slightly. This would be a good learning experience for us all. 
Like I mentioned, The Hubby and I grew up with soccer. I played in both recreation leagues and in a higher competitive tier in my late teens. The Hubby was a forward, a great runner; I was the Goalie or the occasional Sweeper, having a keen sense of tracking the ball, and knowing where people would shoot. The game was something that provided an outlet for me as a young woman. Some of my best memories include the smell of a soccer jersey, the feel of the soccer cleats on the grass, and the sun shining on me. Soccer is a culture in and of itself, really. For years I breathed it, dreamed it, and lived it. The spectators even are notoriously involved in the event.  
Potato, wearing a jersey that was at least eleven sizes too big, hit the field before the game started, and took the ball for spin. I watched, holding Girlie on my lap, who was yelling, “Tayo! Yaaaay!” randomly. I commented to The Hubby that Potato had great control over the ball, as he continued to run in circles chasing the ball, almost effortlessly. He ran on the outskirts of the other kids, running, pausing, kicking, running, running, kicking, pausing, running…
No one won the game. Potato refused to go back on the field at one point, but a conversation with The Hubby and some oranges changed his mind. He absolutely did use one arm as a windmill to propel himself around the field. He did fall down several times, with unexpectedly, no tears. 
He had a lot of fun, and he slept soundly until 10am. Win, win! 
At the end of the night, when I was snuggling him before bed, I said, as I always do, 
“Potato, what was your favorite part about today?” 
He looked thoughtful for a moment, and placed his tiny arms, around my arm, then said, 
“When I played soccer! And when I kicked the ball! Oh, and the oranges, I liked a lot. They were the best oranges I ever had!”. 
I smiled, and kissed his cheek, 
“Soccer oranges are the best kind of oranges, aren’t they?”. 
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