Francine and I giggled and smiled as we shared chicken nuggets and french fries with “dip” (ketchup).
“Can we sit here?” he asked
Looking up at the familiar voice, “Of course! Please sit. There’s plenty of room!” I answer.
Six and seven-year olds giggle in between silly jokes, funny faces and the smiles of being with their teammates. With stomachs now full it was time to hand out the trophies. Trophies were accepted with shy smiles as the coaches words filled the air and made each parent and soccer player proud. Shiny, star topped trophies awarded, it was time for ice cream. Giggles and chatter stopped briefly as proud soccer players clutched their trophies in one hand and tried to lick their cones fast enough to keep drips from running down their arms.
“So did Olivia enjoy soccer?” he asked with an eager smile. “Will she play again?”
I paused in between bites, smiled at him and paused to think…
Fall soccer had been Olivia’s first venture into team sports. Very quickly she learned that soccer was not the summer park district kick the ball around, play some cutesy games and run a little bit soccer she thought it was.
“I hope my team loses!” she growled to her dad her first game, “I’m not playing!”
Each Saturday morning, each Tuesday night practice brought new fierce and meaningful words.
“I don’t want to play!”
“Who’s idea was it for me to play soccer anyway!”
Each pre-practice shin guard and cleats lace up was joined by growls and more words to ensure our understanding.
“When exactly did I say I wanted to play soccer!”
“I don’t ever remember saying I wanted to play soccer.”
As the weeks of what we thought would be a season of learning fundamentals, hard work, learning the enjoyment that comes from being active and the great fun that comes from being a part of a team became my seven-year olds very first lesson in finishing what she started.
Looking at her coach I smiled some more and continued to think. Do I lie, tell him she learned so much and had a good season or tell him the truth, hell no not if you payed me a million bucks (ok maybe a million bucks) would I be signing her up for soccer again any time soon or subject myself to ten weeks of torture again.
“No, she’s not going to play soccer again. She learned that this really isn’t her game.”
Taking a moment to check on Olivia I look over my shoulder. Her six-inch star topped imitation gold winked a reflection at me. Her first trophy was not simply one of many that will pack the shelve in her bedroom, this trophy will forever represent a life long lesson that my husband and I hope that will stay with her forever engrained in her character.