I don’t know why, but I always pictured my older daughter playing soccer and being great at it.
It isn’t because we have soccer in our background, though I played one season on a co-ed team in seventh grade. It was a blast, but I was a benchwarmer. Glad I gave it a shot, I went on to other endeavors in high school and never looked back.
When I was married to my daughters’ dad I went to all my stepson’s elementary school soccer games and screamed helpful suggestions from the sidelines because I thought that’s what you were supposed to do. My suggestions couldn’t have been very helpful, however, because now 10 years have passed and my older daughter is in fact completing her third season of soccer and I’ve acknowledged to myself that I don’t have a strong enough grasp of the game to be of any help to anyone. (I still have no idea what “off sides” means.) So I stand on the sidelines and quietly watch her struggle on a team full of mini Mia Hamms.
It’s been the same team for three seasons. The coaches are wonderful and the kids are nice. I’ve watched them all progress and my daughter has chosen to re-enlist every season. But it is painfully obvious to me that her heart isn’t in it. She doesn’t particularly want to go to practice, or games, and her favorite part of the whole process seems to be chatting with the other soccer parents (the gift of gab is a gift that she has) and the after game snack.
She’s gotten better at some things, for sure, but remains unwilling (or so it seems) to master some basic aspects of the game. Sometimes I beat myself up about this because I can’t take her to the park and show her how it’s done. I can’t model being a good soccer player for her so I sent her to two different camps this summer, one where she got yelled at a lot by young, somewhat grouchy British coaches ready to wrap up their summer adventures and go home to England (to be fair, she seemed to have some fun at both camps, but also seemed really, really relieved when they were over).
I, for whatever reason, liked the idea of her playing soccer and have been mourning the loss of that daydream this season. Because despite her willingness to try, and my willingness to be a soccer mom, it’s really not working out. But she gave it a shot, darn it, she did play soccer on a team that was more than a little intimidating ability-wise…for two seasons longer than I did. And now, whenever she’s ready, it’s time to let it go and move on to other endeavors where she can thrive rather than just survive.
(Hopefully this won’t involve horses, because we live in the city, but, sigh, I can just imagine her loving horseback riding…)