English Parenting Special Needs The foreign life

And, bam! Just like that I turned into a soccer mom

I never wanted to be a soccer mom. It was never in my plans. It was never part of my ideal of motherhood. Poetry and storytelling? Yes. Museums? Sure. Discovering bugs in the park? Checked. So were baking cookies, putting Legos together and doing homework together. Soccer? Not so much.

I love the fact that my strong willed 4 year old chose a hot pink soccer ball. Gender barriers, there you go!
I love the fact that my strong willed 4 year old chose a hot pink soccer ball. Gender barriers, there you go!

I don’t live in the suburbs. I don’t even have a freaking minivan! But here we are, with a bag full of soccer gear. Because, while I made my plans, I forgot that I am from Spain. And Spanish moms are soccer moms by definition. Most little boys in Spain play soccer. Not the Lil’Kickers kind. The competitive kind. Where you have practice two evenings a week and games on weekends. All of this run by the schools, unless you are good enough to join the junior ranks of a professional team. Which is the dream of most Spanish boys I know. Including mine.

Inexplicably this kid slept through the last minutes of the final of the 2010 World Cup, therefore missing the winning goal. He was 3, and these crazy parents took him to a bar to watch the game surrounded by 300 more Spaniards.
Inexplicably this kid slept through the last minutes of the final of the 2010 World Cup, therefore missing the winning goal. He was 3, and these crazy parents took him to a bar to watch the game surrounded by 300 more Spaniards.

My oldest grew up watching the Spanish national team win two Euro Cups and one World Cup. He didn’t know defeat until the World Cup of 2014, when Spain, the defending champions, went home after a humiliating first round. The poor soul grew up collecting stickers, watching games, and proudly wearing the jersey all pampered by the fact that the team rocked as it had never done when we, his parents, were kids. But his whole, life, we were winners. So he grew to love soccer. Still, I didn’t even consider becoming a soccer mom. Sacrificing a day every weekend for soccer? Adding one more activity to our weekday schedules, already packed with therapies? Hell no.

That was until this Fall, when “Hell no” turned into “let’s check it out”, as team sports were advised for him. And here we are. Registration for AYSO closed in June. I registered them in late August. That tells you a lot about my intentions to do this. Actually, I harbored in my heart the hope that maybe they would have no spots left. But, after a few days on a waiting list, they were each assigned a cohort. And there we went, all packed in the car to our first practice. He enjoyed it. He seemed happy. He felt important. That’s a lot in this house. When you have a special needs child who requires services and attention, siblings are always excited when something is done just for them.

Fast forward five years. One of those little orange dots is the cute chubster in the other photos.
Fast forward five years. One of those little orange dots is the cute chubster in the other photos.

This last Saturday we had the first game for the oldest, and the first game/practice for the middle one. The experience was much better than I had expected. I am liking this so much that now I am “team mom”. I just learned that it means that I am in charge of organizing snacks and pictures. As much as I would like to challenge gender barriers myself by volunteering for a traditionally male role while one of my boys plays with the hot pink ball of his choosing, everyone is better off if I am not running around. The last time I tried to play soccer with them I sprained my ankle, which is proof enough that, as much as I think I can score like the best of them, all I can actually do is dive.

I was overwhelmed by the amount of people that we found in Foster Beach, cheering on their broods. I was also very impressed by how well organized it was. It is not easy to run an event where hundreds of people meet with smaller people of all ages on tow. Everything was on time and run smoothly, which made for a very pleasant morning. We actually enjoyed it! And I didn’t even need to move to the suburbs for this. I may need a minivan eventually, as my trunk is now taken by shin guards and soccer balls. But it may be worth it. And I can always decorate it with soccer stickers now.

And then you have the second child. The best part of his first soccer practice? The waves. He left the pitch after 20 minutes to look at them. The tacos were good too.
And then you have the second child. The best part of his first soccer practice? The waves. He left the pitch after 20 minutes to look at them. The tacos were good too.

The funniest part of the morning was that the middle one decided that the waves were way more interesting than the soccer, and so were the tacos. That’s the downside of meeting at a beautiful spot. He was looking for dolphins. That may take more than a move to the suburbs to get, but for now he was happy to spot a couple of ducks and boats. I have to agree with him on the tacos, though. They were seriously good. The kind of good you only get from a food truck. But we cannot hold him accountable for that. After all, by the time he was able to watch five minutes of a soccer game, we were not winning anymore. Who knows, maybe his generation will see another winning Spanish national team, if there is still a Spain to represent by then. And, as a good Spanish mom, I have to dream that they are part of  that team.

Summer of 2010. He wore that equipment day after day. It will be, forever, the summer we won the World Cup.
Summer of 2010. He wore that equipment day after day. It will be, forever, the summer we won the World Cup.

 

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