Sunday, May 16, 2010

Beckham, Interrupted

Years ago in DC, on our Saturday/Sunday trek to the neighborhood Starbucks, Husband and I (then Boyfriend and I) would marvel at the little dervishes of energy and epic cuteness that were the 3 and 4 year old soccer players in the field across from the shopping plaza. They ran in packs (with the obligatory kid off on his own chasing a bug), chasing balls, their little shins protected with guards and their tongues thrust out in concentration as they willed their uncoordinated feet to make contact with their soccer ball. We didn't know what our future would hold exactly, but we knew that at some point, we wanted to be on that sideline, sitting in our little folding chairs with our toasty morning beverage, watching a creature of our very own making doing all that running, chasing and kicking.

Last week, the aforementioned creature, our very own Ethan, started his first soccer class. Due to the birthday party preparations, I had to miss the first class, but Husband took multiple pictures (posted last week) showing Ethan having a fabulous time on the field. So I woke up bright and early this Saturday morning, raring to go see my own personal Beckham on the field, in spite of some pretty seriously nagging lower back pain. We got Ethan outfitted with his new sneakers (his first lace-up shoes--can I tell you how happy I am to have purchased his first lace-involved shoes while I am experiencing the worst back pain of my life? He refuses to wear any other shoes, naturally, so I am forever having to get down on the floor to tie these damn shoes. Feels great), and his shin guards (and seriously who knew a piece of plastic that looks like a giant shoe-horn could be so adorable?).

We drove to the field which reminded me so much of that far away field in the Tenley town neighborhood of DC and was swarming with preschoolers, their groggy-eyed parents, and a bevy of coaches cheering on their tiny little players. I was swooning with "this is my life! This is my little boy! What I dreamed of years ago! I am here!" soccer-mommy happiness. Ethan ran to the orange line with his teammates when his coach called and proceeded to run the warm-up drills with his little counterparts, and Husband and I looked on, chests puffed up with pride and boatloads of happy.

And then. Somewhere in Ethan's enigmatic preschooler's brain, something was not as it should have been. And as all of his little team mates got their balls and started kicking them down the field, our little man stopped in his tracks, his lower lip started quivering and then he threw his head back and wailed.

Huh?! But. But the happy!!! And the cute! Why the tears?!! What is this all about???!!

Husband ran onto the field to retrieve our sobby mess of a child. He wasn't hurt, thankfully. He made some indication that he might have been frightened by something (after nodding his head yes and/or no to a string of questions), but we never did get a definitive answer as to what. And while he eventually did stop crying, he adamantly refused to return to the field. He sat next to Husband and watched his teammates practicing their form and shouting pithy little phrases to the coaches to help them remember the rules of the game.

I hate to admit it, but I was a little twitchy. Maybe it was because my back was screaming and I really shouldn't have been sitting cross-legged on the ground on the side-lines. Maybe it's because I have a touch of the Mommie-Dearest and I really need to work on that before my kid picks up on it. Maybe it was a little bit of both.

But I have to admit, I was cranky. I'd waited years to see my sweet little kiddo bending it like Beckham. And he had---last week! And I'd missed it! And now he wouldn't do it again! Why?!

Ah, I know. Who knows why? Because he's four. Because for any number of reasons, all totally rational in the mind of a preschooler, it just wasn't meant to be that morning. And what's totally irrational is a mom pouting on the sidelines because her child won't play. I know. This certainly wouldn't be the first time my idealized fantasies of parenthood have failed to come to fruition in reality.

That things don't always go according to your plans, fantasies and expectations is not exactly news to me. And shouldn't have resulted in such disappointment on my part. But. Sigh. Those years of anticipation of arriving at this moment and seeing Ethan participating in the game. Not winning, or scoring a goal. It's not about that for me. But I so wanted to see him running up and down that field, laughing, and discovering his own strength.

Once Ethan calmed down and was happily ensconced in Husband's lap, I took a little walk, filled up on some Advil and deep breaths, and then rejoined my men on the sidelines.

I was still amazed by the little dervishes out there, running, screaming, laughing. I hope next week Ethan chooses to join them again.


Becca said...

He will! Poor guy. I totally get what you're saying though! We signed Charlie up for soccer WAY too early and then sat through four grueling lessons in which he refused to share "his" ball with the other kids. Awk!!

Anonymous said...

Dear Sarah, I attended Ethan's first practice and he is truly amazing...running with his tongue out. It was wonderful . But I remember something the chief coach said....If your child decides for some reason he/she doesn't want to join in, it is ok. Don't beat yourself up over this. Next week he will surprise you and this will be forgotten. All I ask is you take more pictures to post.

Uncle Al

Amy said...

This is the exact reason I decided to not come home early from NY, in the end. I new if I did, Jack would totally pull something like this and I would be an insane mess.

Ugh. I would have been so annoyed. I can totally relate to this. The one time Jack did this recently, the other parents were looking at me crazy because I was so adamant that he get out there and play. But seriously, it was like his 402nd time being at soccer and that was the day he decided to cry and cling to me.