I am treating this year of living back in the good ‘ole US of A as an experiment in cultural immersion. Being a “third culture kid” myself, with no true “home” to speak of, I am beginning to learn that no matter where we live, there is much to be learned – including on our “home” turf.
Cue in the cultural phenomenon known as the “soccer Mom.”
Sure, you’ve heard the term before and probably pictured a Mom driving a minivan transporting large numbers of kids from school to soccer practice to soccer games and back again. Add in the “soccer Dad” to help coach the team and drive those long distances for the select “travel team” and the right props readily available in the minivan or SUV trunk (camping chairs, water coolers, snacks, and don’t forget endless bottles of gatorade to help replenish those electrolytes) and yes, that’s pretty much the whole deal.
Oh, I almost forgot to mention the importance of the “snack Mom” (never “snack Dad” as there are clear gender roles) in providing nutritious and popular snacks during half-time and after the game. This is a big deal, dear readers – do not mess up the snacks.
Soccer in this country is serious business – never underestimate that. Even at the Kindergarten level where more emphasis should probably be put on team play, kicking the ball correctly, and limiting the number of dives and tackles per player (this is Kindergarten after all where kids get distracted easily and break into a song and dance routine while high-fiving “rival” players as they are impatiently waiting for the ball to magically appear in their little area of the field).
Soccer parents will not have any of that, I tell you. No matter if goofing up happens at the weekly practices or weekly games (did I mention the weekly time-commitment carrying the “soccer Mom” title requires?) or if kids just had enough of it all and melted down (I did mention this is Kindergarten, right?) – the role of the “soccer Dad” (more often than that of the “soccer Mom” – again, there are important gender roles to be learned here) was to “encourage” your child to play his best game EVER.
So remarks such as “walk it off,” “get back into the game,” “play it like you mean it,” and my favorite, “there’s no crying in soccer” were rampant. Even if a kid broke down completely. A “soccer parent” will not have it (perhaps I exaggerate a little).
All in all – this was an interesting few weeks of Luca’s first experience with an organized sport. We can safely say he enjoyed it, made some friends, and ALWAYS “got back into the game” when requested. He even scored his first goal during his last game – sadly, this was right after half-time when the kids switched sides and Luca scored for the opposing team. BUT, it was a goal so there – he scored and we cheered proudly.
How did I survive as “soccer Mom?” Well, I am happy to be taking a break from giving up Saturday mornings to shuttle kids to and from soccer fields and figuring out how to put on shin guards without breaking a nail. But it was nice to meet “local” people who took us in and showed us what this soccer business is all about. And despite the “competitive” nature often associated with “sport parents,” our team’s families were a fun bunch whose primary motivation was to make soccer a fun experience for everyone involved – with a soccer cake to celebrate the last game!
Will Luca be playing again in the spring? He seems to think so. Now I just need to figure out where to buy that minivan.