Soccer Practice, Parents Included

It never fails. Just when I thought we had safely made it
through my son’s soccer season pain-free and without permanent
injury, the coach unexpectedly made an announcement that went,

The final soccer practice next week will be a game between the
kids and parents.

PARENTS!
It never fails. Just when I thought we had safely made it through my son’s soccer season pain-free and without permanent injury, the coach unexpectedly made an announcement that went, “The final soccer practice next week will be a game between the kids and parents.” PARENTS!

Kids, of course, live for this kind of stuff. But I don’t need to tell you this brought up all sorts of reactions from the adults in the group. None of which I can print here.

Besides, we all know what’s really going on. Any fool knows that the parent-child game has nothing, NOTHING at all to do with soccer. Clearly, it is a type of punishment for all of the Saturdays we (the REAL soccer experts) sat on the sidelines during the game with our cup of morning cappuccino and shouted out professional advice. Most of which went something like, “GET THE BAWWWWLLLLLL!”

OK, so this just shows my bad attitude. Being a guilty sort of parent, I told myself that I should, at least, make some sort of effort to look like I was participating.

So that’s what I did: I dug out my only pair of tennis shoes from underneath my summer sandals, relocated the wet socks that were hanging out to dry on the treadmill, and upgraded my health insurance to include dental work, broken limbs and unexpected long-term assisted care.

But even after all this, it was immediately apparent that the 11-year-olds had a distinct advantage. On the day of the game not only did they have matching jerseys; they made it all the way from the car to the field without the use of coffee.

On top of that, once you’re actually on the field, you will notice a lot of things that you had missed from your fold-up chair on the sidelines. Like, for instance, the goal posts. You might as well know that they are not placed on opposite ends of the field as you had thought. Oh nooooo. They are, in fact, placed in two opposite cities. If you don’t believe me, just try kicking a ball through them. Go ahead. Try it.

That said, once the game started, I did the only thing I could think of to survive: I applied the age-old Farmer family soccer strategy, a cross between standing in one place in case the ball comes “over here” and wildly kicking at the air and screaming.

I could tell my technique was working by the way everyone steered clear of me on the field.

“Mom, kick the ball towards the G-O-A-L,” my son yelled from the sidelines. “And for gosh sakes, stop yelling like that!”

The funny thing about this is, in my head, I was playing good soccer. I was thinking, “Stay close to the ball, dribble between the two opposing forwards, rush through the mid-field defense and drop kick straight into the goal.” However, all I was doing was, well, standing there. I’m not sure why. Although I have a hunch it had something to do with oxygen and having to breathe and the field spinning around and all that.

But, as luck would have it, just when I was ready to wander off the field to find some pharmaceutical medication, a miracle happened: The ball accidentally rolled against my foot and I kicked it. And it went in the same direction as the goal. Yes, it’s true! For a brief moment I was no longer dubbed as “someone who would sink the team’s chances.” I was now “someone who had almost numerically contributed to a real game!” A soccer champion! A sort of middle-aged Brandi Chastain, minus the sports bra.

Of course, this didn’t really help us out much. In the end the score was 4,357 to 3. I think.

But that doesn’t matter. I admit, deep down, playing soccer against the children was fun. Besides, we all made it off the field with our self-esteem and important limbs intact.

Hey, sometimes that’s all you can ask for.

Debbie Farmer is a humorist and a mother holding down the fort in California, and the author of “Don’t Put Lipstick on the Cat.” You can reach her at [email protected]

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