Sunday, March 7, 2010

End of an Era

For years and years and years and years part of our family routine has included sitting on canvas slung camp chairs or rickety bleachers or in later years big stadiums....just to sit and watch weekend soccer.

But as far as we know now, we've watched our final soccer game--at least with one of our offspring playing.

Our middle son was just about done playing soccer a couple of years ago. The others had only really ever dabbled in soccer. But our middle son loved soccer for years and years. Then it went bad. He even retired for a year. Youth soccer is just horrible. Do you have a child kicking a ball around? Take it away from the poor kid. Between the coaches and the governing boards who decide who get's a spot on an "A" team to the dirty play that happens on the field--it's horrible. I don't want anyone else to have to face what our kid has faced. Really. At age 10 you shouldn't have to come up against all the politics and mess of adult ego.

But our son is a great athlete. And he's a wonderful team player. And again and again he's taken himself from one team to another try-out and played his best. And he's ignored his coaches getting ejected from the game and the screaming of parents who think they should coach from the stands. We have always been proud to be his parents, even if we often sit far, far away from the other kids' parents.

Today was the state cup game and our son's team lost. And their coach was escorted from the field.....again. Lovely. Great way to teach young men how to grow-up to be fine young men. Bah.

But yesterday--ah, yesterday was fabulous! The semi-final game was against one of the teams our son used to play for. It was a little odd. We could see parents we knew from the road trips and games and team parties, but we'd look at the players and be stumped. It looked a little like those age progressions you see for missing kids. You could kind of tell which kid was which, but only kind of. They had been 11 year-old kids the last we'd seen them and suddenly they were young men! There were so many nice kids and parents on that team. We could see our son chatting with the boys on the field--very friendly little exchanges. And parents called to us from the stands as we walked past. "Hi! How's it going? Kid's are playing great! Good to see you! Good luck with the game!" It was a nice team.

But there was one family on this team who we'd played with years earlier but on a different team. The dad had been the coach. It was a fine team, but the next year....well, things didn't go well. And that man was very, very hard on my son. It was a really awful time. It was one of those times that you tell your kid "sorry honey, life's just not really fair" and "someday this will all seem less important". And I'm ashamed to say it, but when we got a Wii, we had a Mii of this coach, and I'd make my kids challenge him in boxing. Yeah, I was maybe just a little bitter. It was bad.

But yesterday: redemption. My son's team won. And he scored. And that same coach who had been the fodder for life lesson after life lesson for our kid stopped him to shake his hand. And our son shook his hand and said "thank you" to the gushing.

I am so proud of my son. So proud.

And you parents who are wondering....yes, stand up and help your kid do the right thing. Stand firm. Don't take any crap. It's worth the life lesson. It is. Really, it is.

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