Super 1st Grader is not good at soccer. Will this improve in time, with practice and work? Perhaps. But probably not. He's really not good at it, and he does not care. Let's be super clear about that. This is not titled Super 1st Grader vs. Soccer. And it's probably slightly misleading to name it Awkward Mom vs. Soccer because (a) I'm not out there trying to play soccer, (b) I would totally be trying to use the Force if I were, and (c) a better name for this particular battle would be Awkward Mom vs. the judgment she is imagining the other parents are feeling about her because her child isn't paying any attention to the game and doesn't seem to care if he loses the game for his team and no amount of lectures, yelling, and incentives appear to be changing that and maybe she should give up and pull him off the team but then what does that say about follow-through and sportsmanship and why are children's sports so intense these days and were they always this intense and she just didn't notice and why can't we all just enjoy the game and learn some skills and how to be part of a team and how to lose and win gracefully or is that fragile snowflake talk and am I best preparing my children for the hard realities of life or is this whole thing really just about the fact that I don't want to look stupid in front of the other parents because I don't know what I am doing. But that's too long and won't fit in the title box.
Now, there's a lot to unpack regarding the nature of children's sports, or indeed sports in general, and I hope you will unpack it with me in the comments because I am by nature lazy and unpacking sounds like a lot of work. Time for that later. Right now, I'm mostly concerned with what to do about Super 1st Grader and his Force-approach to soccer. Bear in mind, this is Parks and Rec soccer; I haven't done anything dumb, like put him in a travel league or decide that he should play for Arsenal. So, part of me thinks it shouldn't matter. He's with his friends and he's having fun. He says he likes soccer. He says he wants to play soccer. He clearly understands some of the rules; i.e. no touching the ball with hands, only Force-hand-extensions. But he's really really bad at it. Should that matter at age 7? No. But yes.
What about the other players? The ones who are good. The ones who do care. Shouldn't they be on teams with people who play well or at least pay attention. Super 1st Grader usually looks like an absent-minded stoner who took a wrong turn and wandered into a soccer game. And no amount of yelling at the field, or patient and sensible talks later, seem to change this. He is who he is, and he's my hippie child who finds the inner workings of his mind far more fascinating than a rolling ball. So, I should pull him off the field, right?
But he's not gonna be good at everything and maybe it's important to try new things. Maybe he'll pay attention eventually. He does take forever to warm up, as a general rule. But, then again, maybe a 6-8 week parks and rec soccer schedule isn't enough time for that, and is that fair to the other players? No. Not really, but life isn't fair and they are gonna encounter tons of people who aren't giving 110% out there in the adult world. Shouldn't childhood prepare for this? Yes, but why am I not raising someone who gives 110% and, anyway, why am I hiding from the real reason I care about any of this? The other parents.
Because that's always the shameful core of my public parenting problems, isn't it? What are these other people thinking of me? Me. Not even my child. I could give a flying fig what they think of my child, that's not gonna affect the fierce and endless love I have for that wild and defiant child out there. But what they think of me? Oh, yeah, that's gonna leave a mark. What is her problem? Why can't she make her child listen? What is their house like? He doesn't even care about losing. He's losing the game for us. They must be those everyone gets a trophy people. No ambition. No drive. Well, I mean, look at her clothes, of course she has no drive. No eyelashes either, hasn't she ever heard of Lash Boost? I should add her to my Rodan and Fields party list. But, no, she won't fit in with my actual friends. I mean, poor thing, but I don't need another project. And on and on and paranoid on.
No one is thinking this. I mean, maybe a couple of them are because, let's be real, I really do need to be using Lash Boost, but the majority of these parents are thinking the exact same thing I am thinking; Why is my child laying down in the goal?! Why can't he just behave until we get home? Why can't I go home? I hate this. I'm tired. So tired. Everyone is looking. Everyone is judging. Everyone. Is. Judging.
And everyone is judging. Themselves. Like crazy-pants. Can we just stop? Can I just stop? Please? Can we please just stop already?
So, back to the soccer game. After the Force-attempt, there are like 5 more minutes of the game. Super 1st Grader laughs at my bellow to stop using the Force and shoves his hands back in his pockets. He wanders around the field for awhile, shouting some encouraging stuff to the goalie and then he asks him if he's gonna see the Ninjago movie. He watches a bird, makes some strange gestures that I imagine are to Invisible Grandpa about something important, and cheers when the whistle blows for the end of the 4th quarter. He rushes over to get his snack and water bottle, and, as he is making his way to me, happy and free and thoroughly enjoying this beautiful fall day, the best player on the team runs over to him and they have a brief and animated conversation about 7-year-old-boy stuff, while they do that shoving/side-hugging thing that males seem born knowing how to do. They laugh about a private joke that I really hope isn't dirty and then push off each other and, as Super 1st Grader walks backward toward me, Best Player yells, "Bye! See you at practice!" And Super 1st Grader yells back "OK!" while turning the full force of his bright Han Solo grin my direction, and suddenly I can't hear the crazy-pants judging anymore. I can hear something like bells or music or the sweet sound of doing my best for my child who might be very bad at soccer but is very good at humaning and anyway it's a picturesque day and I'm just gonna stop. Let's just stop.
Now, if soccer was about fabulous hair,
he'd be Lionel Messi.