Category: Soccer

The Beautiful Game

This week our eldest children played their first “real” soccer games ever. They have played a number of games at “soccer in the park,” which is in its fifth year (!!)–but this was the first time either child had played on a field with a referee and a team uniform and parents in lawn chairs watching and shouting, and a coach who wasn’t also Dad. We all went to AppleApple’s first game. I packed a picnic. It was sunny and not too cold and we laid out a blanket and set up beside the field. But it wasn’t much fun. The children who were not playing were mostly misbehaving. While twirling around a goalpost, CJ whacked his head with a resonant whump that could be heard across the field. Tears. More tears from Fooey who was afflicted with general unhappiness at not being the centre of attention. Ditto Albus, whose first game wasn’t till the following night. He did not take well to seeing his parents focused on his sister, and the first thing he said when she came off the field at the end of the game (flushed and delighted), was: “Did you win?” (He knew her team had lost; he keeps careful and accurate score of all games).
It was a grim parenting moment: What are we doing wrong? Why are our children unkind to each other? Onward. He was bored. And sibling rivalry happens.
We actually had a good talk about the subject the following day, when he refused to show AppleApple how to play a song on the piano that he and I had worked out by ear (K’Naan’s Wavin’ Flag, which everyone in our house sings and hums at random points during the day). He wouldn’t show her how to play it because it was his secret. After some mean words, he was sent to his room, and I followed a minute or two later. I explained that I could show AppleApple how to play the song too, and that it was really K’Naan’s song, and he had been very generous with it, and had shared it with many other musicians and artists. And I said that bullies were often (though not always) people who were insecure about their own abilities, or feeling envious and jealous, and who tried to make other people feel small so that they could feel big. I said that it’s a sign of self-confidence when we’re willing to share what we know with other people–like K’Naan. I didn’t end up showing AppleApple how to play the song (by the time I came downstairs, she’d moved on to something else). But yesterday morning, Kevin and I were in the kitchen and we paused and looked at each other: we could hear Albus in the living-room, helping AppleApple figure out how to play Wavin’ Flag.
At AppleApple’s game I discovered that I’m the kind of mother who shouts things from the sidelines. Nothing bad. But I was quite amazed, as if standing apart from myself, watching this woman excitedly cheer on her daughter, “Go, go, go! Good job! Try again!” Etc. I really couldn’t help myself. It’s likely a good thing I was distracted by misbehaving children most of the time. At the end of her very first game, Kevin ran out on the field and gave her a huge hug. I felt the same way: so very proud.
The next night, only Kevin was able to go along for Albus’s first game. His games don’t start till 7:15; not to mention that it was pouring rain and about 3 degrees Celcius. No kidding. I got a before picture, imagining a dramatic and sodden after picture, but by the time I saw him, he had shed his soaked uniform: the after picture was taken in a warm bath, and he’s drinking a cup of hot chocolate. And he’s beaming. He had a blast, though does seem at a disadvantage for never having played on a “real” team before. When Albus had to throw the ball in, and hesitated and hesitated, not sure when he was allowed to, Kevin heard other parents (on Albus’s team) muttering amongst themselves, and he wanted to say, “It’s his first game!” It’s not exactly painful to watch our children struggle, but it is genuinely painful to see them judged … by other adults … in a game that’s supposed to be fun for the kids … (Kevin also saw a few parents yelling at their own kids at the end of the game).
The good news is that Albus had a wonderful time, win or lose.
For AppleApple’s second game, yesterday, Kevin took her alone, with a packed supper for afterward, and I fed the other kids at home before we walked up to the Eco-Fair event at their school (most popular area at the Eco-Fair was, hands-down, the juice and cookie table; CJ had to be physically restrained from going for fourths).
Meanwhile, back at the field, AppleApple played goalie for the entire game, and was, according to her dad, quite amazing and fearless. (She’s never played goalie in her life). By the end of the game, the parents were all cheering her by name. The game ended in a tie. But Kevin said it was gut-wrenching to watch.
Honestly, I’m not sure either of us are cut out for the sidelines. But we’ll do anything for our kids.
The experiment of soccer almost every night is already taking a toll, as Kevin and I pass each other and wave hello and goodbye, and we’ve yet to figure out a way to enjoy supper together as a family (which is an important part of our everyday routine); but I’m glad the kids are getting a chance to do something just for them, which is hard to pull off in a family with four kids. May it continue to be fun.
(And here’s hoping each child shines in his or her own way, and enjoys his or her own pursuits, without comparison. Comparing siblings is nothing more than toxic parenting. I’m trying to make sure the kids don’t label each other and measure against each other, either, difficult as that can be. I don’t mean we don’t recognize differences, just try hard not to say: why can’t you be like … or so-and-so always … etc.).


Had three minutes of perfection this afternoon: the kids were all playing (mostly outside), the laundry was off the line and folded, the soup was simmering on the stove, and I picked up the front section of today’s paper and read for a few minutes on the back porch. Three minutes. Not bad.
After supper, the kids styled each others’ hair. I especially enjoyed CJ’s wings, as frothed-up by AppleApple (he, in turn, brushed her hair so that it covered her face), and my heart was touched by Albus fussing with Fooey’s hair: “It looks better when it goes like this,” [fuss, fuss, fuss]. “Don’t worry,” I told Fooey, who said she didn’t like how it scratched her cheeks, “hairdressers always like styling your hair all crazy, and then you can just go home and stick it back behind your ears like usual.” “Okay, I’m home now!”
CJ is just at such a stage. It’s so emphatic. There’s no mistaking it. He has certain postures, this slump of the shoulders he does when his feelings are hurt, which might just turn into a whirling blithering rage as he stamps across the floor, growling and whacking anything in his way. I enforced a time-out today for throwing. In the midst of his tantrums, he likes to grab any object handy and fling it. Let’s see whether we can break him of that. On the potty front, we’re having some luck with new training pants (thank you, kind lenders of new training pants!). He doesn’t like being wet. The disposable pull-ups are worse than useless since they actually hold more than a cloth diaper. But the training pants don’t hold much. “I want to pee on the pot,” he declared all day, usually arriving to tell me this after the fact; but I appreciated the sentiment. I’m feeling no sense of urgency, and continue to feel encouraged by his progress. He’s getting it, just at his own pace. This morning, his friend of the almost-identical-age was over, and the two of them had a blast in the backyard. They both found hockey sticks and soccer balls and set about playing “Hockeyball!” As they called it. “Hockeyball!” I kicked a soccer ball around, too, and every time I hoofed it into the net (which felt pretty awesome, I must say; stress release? that feeling of being a kid again?), CJ’s friend would throw his hands into the air and shout: “Yay! We win!”
It was a day of full-on mothering and calm. I can only manage these days because I know there’s more going on later in the week (ie. some hours to work and to be alone); but because Monday is a unique day in a week of busyness and a variety, it’s somehow easier to let myself relax and enjoy the calm, quiet, mothering-ness of it, without wishing I were doing something else, or feeling too bored. All I have to do is make supper, hang laundry, and hang out with small children (oh, and a few other chores along the way). So I get to do things like … kick a soccer ball, meet Kevin and co. for a business lunch, walk to the pick up the kids from school, let CJ walk all the home, read the newspaper for three minutes in the sunshine, play guitar to the boys before bed, sing Fooey a lullaby while stroking her cheek and sensing her drift into sleep …
Just another Monday. Praise be.

Today’s To-Do List



5.Soccer in the park. Baking cookies, granola, and bread. Hamburgers and asparagus for supper. Family night (Bananagrams?).

There’s been an interesting conversation going on about how a blog’s tone develops, especially these mommy-blogs, in which stay-at-home parents reflect on their daily lives; and I’ve noticed this blog has really changed since its inception. More photos. Less text. But also less complaining? Less detail, perhaps. I’ve begun to treat this space more as a scrapbook than a diary. But is it painting a picture of our daily lives that is too idealized? Does it look like we spend our days cavorting in puddles, our fronts dusted in flour, our minds peacefully occupied? Well, that’s ’cause we do.

Or, wait …

Blogland is nothing if not selective. And I like selecting the good stuff. Tantrums? Siblings whacking siblings? Last-minute-supper-prep-madness? Bathtime resistance? “I’m so bored.” Disturbed nights? Late-night glass of wine? Too much coffee? Warts, snot, burping, dirty diapers? Yup, we’ve got ’em, too. But I haven’t started photographing that stuff yet. Maybe I will. Or at least slip in a few views of the darker side of this lifelong adventure, just to balance things out. No promises, however.

Green Things Good To Eat

That previous post was too long. Note to self: no drinking & blogging. Above, our first local food of the season … green onions grown in neighbour Nina’s garden!! Wow. Things this tall and edible are growing in gardens around us right now. I hadn’t realized how starved I was for fresh and green–woke bright and early to fantasize about market morning and to make a list–then sent my hobbling husband with two children. And here this post shall end, perhaps too soon; but it’s soccer in the park. Which means it must be raining. Or just about to.

Last Sit at Wounded Knee

These photos commemorate one of the last days of the splinted knee, which happened to coincide with Kevin’s favourite time of the year, the first round of the hockey playoffs when there’s a game on every night, and our television is tuned to it. First round doesn’t seem to be over yet, but the splint is officially off, the knee officially healed (I keep asking, “Okay, so the bone is completely, totally healed, like it’s not going to break apart if someone bumps into it?” and Kevin keeps saying, “Uh, yah, that’s what the surgeon said.”). In fact, after six weeks of not bending his leg, AT ALL, it’s time to do the opposite and figure out how to get it to bend readily again. (“So, if it’s all healed,” I asked, “why wouldn’t you be playing soccer this summer?” And he replied, “Because I can’t, um, run. At all.” “But you can bend your knee now.” “Well, in theory, I can bend my knee, but it doesn’t bend more than ten degrees right now.”) Right.
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