I hate sports.
I hate watching them. I hate doing them. I hate hearing about them, talking about them, and reading about them. If you ask me who I like in the [Insert Well-Known Cup or Bowl Game Here] I will stare at you blankly until you get uncomfortable and drift away. Sports are just not my thing.
And yet I find myself surprisingly enthusiastic about my six-year-old’s soccer games.
It’s true. I can totally hang with the career soccer moms when it comes to clapping and cheering and acting like a moronic superfan all in the name of kindergarten sports. Even with my near-palpable disdain for all things that involve moving and sweating, I still manage to get psyched about watching my son play.
If you ask me, it’s impossible to have a bad time at a children’s soccer game, especially when the kids are young and don’t really give a shit about winning or losing. You go, you sit on a sunny field in one of those precarious foldable canvas chairs that molds rather indecently to your butt, and you root for and laugh at a bunch of little kids tumbling around in the grass like drunk puppy dogs. I mean, tell me that’s not a good time. (You can’t.)
Soccer games = fun.
But then there are the soccer practices. Soccer practices are the opposite of fun. In fact, I’m pretty sure that if you look up “fun” in the dictionary, there’s a picture of one of my son’s soccer practices under “Antonyms.” They are, as far as boring parental responsibilities go, right up there with waiting to see the pediatrician for what always seems like six and a half hours. There are no thrilling wins, no devastating losses, no highs, no lows, no clapping, no cheering, no emotions of any kind.
What is there a lot of? Sitting. And staring. And wondering “Is this OVER yet?” because:
- You have to start dinner.
- The kids need to do their homework.
- Everyone still has to have a bath.
- So. Bored.
- *discreetly checks Facebook on phone*
- Big sigh, followed by a yawn.
Here lies the problem with soccer practice: during an actual game, no one really expects anything from you but to be supportive and help your children not obsess about the outcome. (And also to keep the lid on any overly competitive douchebaggery.) But during soccer practice? It’s like you’re honor bound to sit there staring vacantly at every single warm-up exercise. Every single skill drill. Every single lap being run around a plastic cone. If you dare to look at your smart phone or (good heavens!) bring something else to do, you’re simply the WORST KIND OF PARENT.
The only acceptable way you are allowed to entertain yourself during soccer practice is to make small talk with the other parents. If you’re me, these conversations never end well. Witness this “enjoyable” exchange I was once suckered into during a soccer practice:
Other Mom: “Is your son’s t-shirt in Spanish?”
Me: “Oh, ha ha. Yeah.”
Other Mom: “Is he taking Spanish in school?”
Me: “Oh. Um. Not really. He’s bilingual. His father is Spanish.”
Other Mom: “I think that’s SO great. My son is learning a little bit of Spanish in school.”
Me: “That’s wonderful!”
Other Mom: “Yeah. It’s nice, because his nanny is from the Congo.”
Me: *straps on parachute, bails out of conversation*
Let’s face it, nothing is more contagious than the atmosphere at a children’s soccer game, particularly one rife with kindergarten giddiness. You applaud like a maniac at every nearly-completed pass. You shriek at the top of your lungs every time the ball even goes *near* the goal. You sigh out an enormous “awww” every time a kid scores a point against his own team.
Soccer practices, on the other hand, are the most boring thing that ever was and the only way you’re encouraged by society to get through them is to make inane conversation with oblivious women who think their Congolese nannies speak Spanish.