Friday, May 18, 2007

Soccer Mom on Probation

It’s official. Two months ago I enrolled Kaleb and Leah in the American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO); I’ve become a bona fide soccer mom. But before you get all impressed, let me just say that I’m close to having that prestigious title revoked. The organization is currently in talks to suspend my children for violation of AYSO code, title 9, chapter 1, § 101: having delinquent soccer parents.

It’s horrible, I know. My husband and I have countless excuses; we’re busy, forgetful, distracted, uncoordinated and have never played soccer before in our lives. The important thing is that we recognize our faults and are trying to make amends.

But before I begin my very public penance, let me explain. It all started with one missed practice. It seemed innocent enough. The first practice was at five, but that night the coach informed us that future practices would be held at four; same field, different time. I forgot. I not only forgot, but I was late to the practice at the wrong time. I chased the coach to his car, apologizing for my forgetfulness and making promises that would soon be blatantly violated.

We went on vacation. We were gone for a week. We forgot about soccer. We missed two practices and two soccer games per child (okay, okay, so that makes four practices and four soccer games.). A coach called and left us a message. We were to inform him whether or not Leah would be playing soccer; he needed all his Division U4 (preschool) players in attendance when possible.

Again, I offered a profuse apology, vowing my devotion to soccer and all that is AYSO. The coach sounded unimpressed, even a tad reproachful. I was embarrassed and ashamed. I would never miss another practice or game, so help me soccer.

That Saturday, game day, it snowed, a cold and slushy snow. It was May 5th, Cinco de Mayo, and my two sons were celebrating their birthdays. Regardless of birthday distractions I was determined to emulate my role as soccer mom. We may not end up with a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle birthday cake, but my kids would go to their soccer games.

Soon it was noon and Coach 1 had already called to tell us Kaleb’s game had been cancelled. The other game was to start in just 30 minutes. I assumed it had been cancelled too, but when I still hadn’t heard from Coach 2 fifteen minutes later, I called to check the status. As far as he knew, there was a game. You know what they say when you assume, he joked. Even the soccer zealot’s a wise guy, I thought.

I hung up the phone in full soccer-mom mode. In ten minutes we had dressed my daughter in her uniform, complete with hip socks, shin guards, and cleats. The soccer bag was filled with bottled water, snacks, extra jackets, and the camera. The minivan was loaded with folding chairs, and everyone was headed out the door when the phone rang.

It was Coach 2. “I’m here at the field and it looks like the game’s been cancelled,” he said, laughing nervously.

I waved everyone back into the house. “We were going, you know,” I said to the coach. “We were heading out the door.”

But he misunderstood. “I’m sorry about that. We’ll see you next week.”

He hung up the phone before I could finish. “See,” I said to no one in particular. “I’m a good soccer mom. A serious soccer mom.” The Division U4 soccer coach didn’t hear a word. And neither did one single ranking member of the AYSO.

Later, still wearing her soccer uniform, my daughter asked, “When can I take ballet?”

Hhmmm, I thought. Dance classes. Maybe I have a crack at being a decent ballet mom.

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