Let me preface this by saying that I am so not one of those parents. You know what I mean...the ones who get all worked up, think their kid isn't getting enough playing time, yell at coaches and refs, and ultimately punch other parents in the head out of pure frustration and lack of anger management skills. I don't project my own failed attempt at soccer onto my son. I don't live vicariously through my children's successes because I wasn't quite good enough to make the US woman's olympic soccer league. Or even get off the bench much on my JV soccer team.
That is, I wasn't one of those parents until I started watching Rollie play. Because now that I've spent approximately 45 minutes sweating on the sidelines of a tiny soccer field yelling like an over-caffinated cheerleader as a flock of children follow a rolling ball around a field like a school of clumsy fish, I can see how parents get themselves whipped up into a tizzy. I sure jumped up and down waaay more than a woman in my delicate condition should have been, and I'm usually about as excitable as Ben Stein at a monster truck rally. Good thing Rollie's not yet capable of being embarrassed by his parents.
Watching 3- and 4-year-olds play anything sport-like is hilarious. They look like they should be really good. They've got the uniform, the shin-guards, the cleats, the eye-black, the silly haircuts and the propensity to throw over-dramatic temper tantrums in the middle of the field.
But once the whistle blows and the ball starts rolling, it's total comedy. Kids running in the wrong direction, kids standing in the middle of the field crying, kids doing the pee-pee dance as they wait on the sidelines for their chance to chase the their team mates around and kick the ball into the next field. I kept waiting for someone to throw banana peels onto the grass and watch the kids slip around as they stumbled after each other to reach the ball. It would have added to the slapstick hilarity, and made for some great YouTube clips.
Rollie was with the first group of kids on the field, and as soon as the game started he took off with the ball...toward his own goal. For a few heart-stopping moments I was pretty sure he was going to score on himself, thus becoming the team pariah and letting down the entire town who'd come to see the Monkey Sharks celebrate the first of many victories. But fortunately (or unfortunately), his aim is a little off. Just slightly. Either that, or there was some quixotic force field around the goals, making it impossible for the ball to go in even with a direct kick from five inches out.
One thing I will say about Rollie: he sure is fast. He was like Forest Gump out there. I mean, I've kinda known he's a fast little sucker--chasing him around the house to diaper him or wipe his nose has always required more effort that I've cared to admit. Now I can no longer catch him unless I'm at a full-on sprint in properly laced sneakers. It's like chasing down a cheetah. Who's about to wipe his peanut butter-encrusted face on the couch. At one point during the game, as Jeff and I watched our son dribble the ball toward the wrong goal, Jeff whispered, "Maybe he'll be really good at track."
I'd had such high hopes for Rollie when we first signed him up. Jeff literally had Rollie kicking a ball around the house before he could walk. We signed him up in January, bought all the gear, Jeff set up a net in the yard and practiced scoring and passing drills. We were the epitome of parents who really, really wanted to see their son excel at something athletic that wasn't Extreme Semi-Naked Couch Leaping.
Now we have adopted the mentality that you always hear about but figured it was the mantra of The Second Best: It's not whether you win or lose, it's how you play the game. And for me, it's how worn out the game makes you so that you'll go to bed early and sleep through the night for a change.