At age 4, I joined the Wild Cats in the youngest division of AYSO region 72. Family legend says I was relatively cooperative during weekly practice, but would have nothing to do with the games. In spite of looking absolutely adorable in my black and white uniform.
One of my earliest actual memories is standing in the goal, swimming in a jersey that was way to big, before running off the field toward my parents because I didn’t want to play anymore. But I’d stayed on the field tear free for almost half the game! A new personal best.
So how did the muppets first foray into soccer go?
Poorly. Well, that’s not entirely accurate. It was an abject failure.
Our little mama’s club had organized a soccer class for the kiddos. Perfect! I thought. They’ve been practicing at home and with Papa when we’d journeyed down to SoCal. And they’ll know all the kids – their little friends that they’re growing up with and even go to school with.
“We’re gonna play shocker!” they’d both squealed when we got them ready for school in the morning. “We go to the park to play shocker with our friends,” they took turns declaring as we drove toward the field.
We arrived. We parked. We got out of the car. And they melted down.
“Nooooo! I get back in the car! I go home. NOW! I no play shocker. I don’t want to.”
This was behavior I have never seen in them before. I suggested we just go watch our friends play. Search found this acceptable. Destroy continued regretting his decision to enter the world early, as he tried to once again physically become part of me.
A few minutes in, Search was distracted by a neon blue ball. He began picking it up and tossing it back and forth. (This was progress. I didn’t dissuade his handling. Maybe he’s a goalie.)
Left to his own devices, Search tested the bounds even further. He meandered on to the field. (No where near the coaches or drills, mind you.) Ultimately Destroy decided it seemed to be a worthwhile endeavor to check out.
I looked out at the field. My two children were playing their own game of footie – completely oblivious to the scrum going on at the other end.
Is this a twin thing? Where they only want to play with one another? Is this normal?
Enticed by the possibility of a “participation” sticker, the two stealthily merged with the pack for the end-of-class superhero cheer.
Suddenly Destroy screamed. Like a switch had been flipped, he raced toward me, sobbing.
“I don’t wanna play shocker. I NEED PLAY HOCKEY!” (Editor’s note: WTF?)
Saturday morning we tried again. We headed off to Mommy and Me Soccer. “I’ll play with you!” I reassured the little guys. Once again they were stoked.
Until we got there.
Destroy wouldn’t even set foot on the grass. (Tangent: Dear NICU nurses, his lungs are totally fine these days. I’m sure you probably knew that since the greater Bay Area could hear him screaming. And crying means breathing.)
We watched the first class so they could get so excited about what was going on. They didn’t.
Aunt Ivy even came out to help manage the misgivings. (Some of our friends were competing in the ToughMudder physical challenge. But Ivy took on the far more difficult endurance event of convincing a doubting toddler that he wanted to be somewhere he’d made pretty clear he didn’t.)
Search was willing to attempt the first drill. He dribbled the ball over to the colored flag. Then he stood in his “soccer stance” (one foot on top of ball while quietly listening to their coach).
I had a momentary delusional fantasy that maybe this was going to go swimmingly after all. Instead it went just as well as our final swimming class of last summer.
So Ivy and I had a lovely morning learning how to run and kick.
At morning end, the crowds of kids dissipated. Search looked around. Once he seemed certain no one was watching, he squared up and heartily kicked a soccer ball into the goal. Kid’s got one hell of a stubborn streak. And he’s going to do things his way, on his own timeline.
What a pill.
Like mother, like son.