Saturday, September 10, 2016

Survival of the Soccer


I have four biological children. And I have fostered kids from infants to teens. If I had to fill out an application for the job of parenting, I'd feel CONFIDENT putting seven years of INTENSE experience. But I have to be honest here. Today? I felt WAY out of my league.

I suppose I'm not an "over-achiever" in the scheduling department. I am 100% in compliance with "not over-scheduling" my children. (Or myself).  I don't like the stress. I don't like the driving. And I don't like the psycho-crazy person I turn into when I have to be at THREE places at ONCE.

I have a rule in my home. Each child can be in ONE sport at a time. ONLY ONE! None of this- t-ball, soccer, gymnastics, karate, swim team, pole dancing business that these super moms running around in capes do. I can't even get all four kids to church on time. And that's in the same PLACE! No, no, no.  No way am I signing up to be a full time taxi driver.

Over the summer, my three kids did gymnastics. This fall, they asked to play soccer. In my head, I thought, "THIS IS GREAT! Think of the money I will save! I have all but given the gym my kidneys in exchange for what? (Have you SEEN my children try to do a cart wheel)???"

So I signed up THREE kids to play soccer. With a 4 month old. And a Starling. (If you are thinking my judgment is lacking, I concur. To the tenth degree of concur-ment).

First soccer practice on a Tuesday. Went fantastic! I only had to take Brooklyn and Squishy (that's the 4 month old) to the YMCA for a little indoor soccer fun.  

With all the false confidence of a delusional person that thinks, "I got this!" I went to the second practice on a Thursday where TWO of my children were practicing at Tatum (aka the maze from Hell), both at 6p.m. (As was at LEAST half of Hattiesburg). After driving around for, oh TWENTY minutes to find a place to PARK, I headed on another twenty minute HIKE carrying a 15 pound ball of baby, a diaper bag filled with water bottles, 2 soccer balls, all the while being followed by three complaining children asking, "Why are we walking so far?"

"Why are we walking in circles?"

 "Where is my team?"

Before they FINALLY came to the conclusion, "Ummm... I don't think Mom knows where she's going." (To which comment, I mildly LOST IT).

I finally interrogated every short person team I saw, and finally found Boeing's spot. I called Brighton's couch who was on the other side of the universe, and marched him to his position so I could finally enjoy (that's sarcasm) running laps in between the two fields seeing a bunch of NONE of their practice, just ATTEMPTING to supervise- sort of kind of. Their practices were ending at the same time so I finally left Brooklyn in charge of Brighton (Yeah. Brooklyn is a very mature SEVEN year old. Don't judge me. I was DESPERATE) while I hauled off to get Boeing.

My shoes rubbed blisters on my feet and my arms had long since turned to Jello.

And just when I THOUGHT we'd survived the practice, I lost my car.

Do you KNOW how many people drive WHITE MINI VANS at a SOCCER field? Is that a soccer mom requirement. "Don't forget to bring your white van?" I must have said, "FINALLY. THAT's our car!" at least seven times.

Needless to say, when I got home and Starling inquired about said practice, with his usual delightful, jovial personality- all smiles and happiness, I all but chewed his head up into little bits of fro and spit it back out. I sent him to Sam's to buy a wagon, and forbade him from EVER, and I mean EVER sending me ANYWHERE NEAR Tatum with four kids by myself again.

"I learned my lesson," I thought. "I'm going PREPARED," I proclaimed.

I arrived at the fields at 8:30 this morning, even though games didn't start until 9. I parked by a sign. I memorized the sign. I would NOT lose my car twice. I downsized my diaper bag to actually a bag with a diaper. I put squishy in the wagon.

But where was Starling? Coming. He was coming. He just "had to" (we disagree on the "have to" and "want to"'s in our marriage) buy another jet ski "real quick." He got there "on time"-ish. Which means late. Because I'd already deposited kids on two different fields, and he had to find a parking spot and then find us. Oh. And the temperature had already reached 812 degrees.

The coach asked Boeing if he wanted to play. "Um, naw," he said, upon seeing his daddy arrive with snacks. He brought the family favorite- Starling's own "beefed up" version of Peanut Butter trail mix. (This means he buys a back of trail mix and dumps a huge bag of m&m's in it. And who doesn't like a handful of chocolate with a pretzel and peanut)? Unless you are talking about the debbie-downer MOM who's eyes are twitching at DAD mentally screaming, "SERIOUSLY. You brought CHOCOLATE? To a soccer game? In MISSISSIPPI?" Boeing's hands were covered in brown goo in about two seconds, which he stealthily cleaned on his white jersey.

"Boeing you have to play. It's your turn."

"Ugh. I don't want to. It's too hot."

I ran back to Brooklyn to take her some water just in time to see her melting down, "Mom. It's SOO hot... and I'm just DYING!!"

I cut her off with an impromptu pep-talk through gritted teeth, because I mentally screaming, "SUCK IT UP."

Starling and I switched back and forth between Brooklyn and Boeing's fields because he wanted to "help them" with their soccer. On game day. (He isn't a procrastinator. At. All).

Brighton's game started in the middle of Brooklyn and Boeing's game so we got to enter the "be in three places at once" warp zone. It was truly enchanting.

I left Brooklyn just long enough to run Brighton to another field, prepping him along the way. "Kid. Your brother and sister are melting down. Team Johnson is falling fast. We have to have one kid that can hold it together and that HAS to be you, bud. You got this."  I left him with a huge thermos of water and bee lined it back to Brooklyn.

The ball was coming straight to her. "Stop the ball!" someone shouted. And she did. She reached RIGHT down and grabbed it. And then she remembered she wasn't the goalie. The mortification was too much for her to bear.  She broke down in sobs. The coach carried her off the field.  

I had VERY little pep left in me, but I mustered what I could and told her ALL about MY sports days. (Which is pretty limited. I quit playing basketball after one year in middle school because our practice was 2nd period and I didn't like getting sweaty). I didn't mention that part... I told her how people accidently kick balls in the wrong net, (on Boeing's team in the wrong net on the wrong field...). 

Between her first and second game, (what genius thought it was a good idea to make parents suffer through TWO games a KID EVERY SATURDAY?!), we ran to watch Brighton. Boeing's game was done, FINALLY, so Starling met us over there, too. Amazingly...Brighton was loving it. He made a friend and kept giving him fives and patting him on the head when he did something good. (Like a dog. We really need to work on that kids social skills). Starling told Brighton he would give him a Butterfinger if he scored a goal, and that's when he kicked into gear. And score, he did. I mean he told me he did. I didn't get to SEE it, of course. I had to be on another field trying to keep up Brooklyn's morale.

We said a prayer together on the way back over to her field that she would be brave and endure to the end of her next game. She said, "I can't let my team down, Mom. I can DO this!"

And boy, she umm... well... she tried, bless her heart. She ran AFTER the ball. She touched it once and stopped to give me a thumbs up and it was gone. She finished the second game with a smile. (EVEN though the other team stomped them and kicked them while they were down).
Boeing was a broken record of "it's hot" and "let's go"s by the time Brooklyn and Brighton were done. Since Boeing plays for the Bops team and since the owner is his coach, (get real- we went for me. Let's call a duck a duck- I wanted a snow cone), we went to Bop's. (Here's a Bop's plug. A REGULAR snow cone- which I have never been able to finish- is $2.19. What snow cone stand sells something you can't finish for THAT price? One feeds all three kids).

Apparently it was the thing to do because every seat was filled with soccer players. (Guess the word's out that if you go wearing your uniform you get an extra scoop of ice cream).

We got back in the car and I cranked up the air. It was stifling hot. I cranked it up some more. I had a sinking feeling as I stuck my hand to the air vent and the air was HOT. My A/C was out.

Oh wait. NO. It was just turned onto the heater. WHY?? Because Brighton was cold from his snow cone and turned on the heat. Without saying anything to the rest of us who were slowly melting to death from a heat stroke. (This is the same kid that tied wire all over our fire place Christmas Eve when he got to thinking about things and decided he didn't want Santa coming down HIS chimney).

We finally made it home and the best part of my day happened. BOEING took a nap.

 I now know why people decorate their vans in things that say, "Soccer Mom!" and plaster their kid's soccer numbers all over their car. It's like a rite of passage, a certificate of completion, a beacon of light to all other moms out there. "I DID IT. I SURVIVED SOCCER! YOU CAN, TOO!"  

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