The first time I remember Madeline becoming aware of soccer was Nicholas’ Spring season last year. It was all I could do to keep her on the sidelines. As we went to practice after practice, she’d mirror what he was doing on the field, but do it on the sidelines.
Running, running, running.
Dribbling, dribbling, dribbling.
The second session of that season, Nick received his team shirt. We had walked with the Director over to his truck where he rummaged around in the various boxes to get the right team shirt. The right size. He handed it to Nick and then looked at Madeline.
“Does she play yet?” he asked.
“No, not yet. She’s only recently turned three.”
He went back to digging in the boxes and came out with a tie-dyed Munchkin Soccer shirt, and gave it to her. Exactly like her brother’s. Different team color. Smaller size.
As soon as we started walking away, she was pleading for us to put in on her.
Soon after, a friend gave me soccer cleats that her daughter had outgrown. Although they were just a hair big on Madeline at the time, it didn’t matter. She put her little feet in them, donned the oversized soccer t-shirt, and dragged her brother out to the yard to practice kicking. Frequently.
Although that was usually after I yelled for them to get out of my kitchen with the flying soccer ball.
I have my limits.
And so here we are. The Winter season for soccer is underway. Nick sits this season out, because it’s indoors and he’s not a fan of that. Although Madeline is still a few weeks away from her 4th birthday, I sent in the registration form and held my breath. They let her in.
She knew this past Sunday was her first day of practice.
We bought the shin guards and soccer socks last week. And the size 3 ball.
Some of us more patiently than others. I wrote it on the calendar and she watched as we crossed off the days.
As she was going to bed Saturday night, she told me how excited she was. Over the last month, she’s told me that she’s going to be a goalie.
7 am. Sunday.
“Mom. Mom. MOM.”
I cracked one eye open and looked at the clock.
“What’s the matter?” I asked her.
“I’m all ready for my soccer.”
“Honey, we don’t have to be there until after 12. We have plenty of time.”
“I’m ready now,” she said.
And so she was.
Glittery eye shadow on. Red knit sweater on inside out and backwards. Pink shorts that were a size too big, threatening to fall off as soon as she moved.
But darn it if she wasn’t ready.
We managed to get through breakfast. An outfit change. A Zumba class.
And then finally it was time.
As we parked in the high school gym parking lot and started to make our way inside, she grabbed my hand and squeezed a little tighter. The nerves were starting to kick in.
I bent down and told her, “You got this. Remember how excited you were when you woke up this morning? Just remember that feeling. Your friend Sabrina is on your team. You’ll make new friends. And everyone is here to cheer you on.”
That didn’t help. At least for the first 15 minutes. As I held her hand running back and forth across the gym. As I reminded her that I had already worked out for an hour that morning. That this was her turn.
But then she relaxed. Let loose. And saw everything was as I said it would be.
She had this.
January 9, 2012 – Bonus Photo
I’ve slowly been going through and doing some purging in my cabinets and cupboards, and this beautiful three-piece set of place mats is next to go. I bought them many moons ago from a dealer in NYC, and with the delicate beading, they are really stunning. You can get more details (and snatch them for your very own cabinet!) right here.
PSST – Did you hear what the Color of the Year was? Come check me out here, and start bringing a little sunshine to your closet.