I have single-handedly turned the whole soccer deal into a drama-filled night of emotional ups and downs. And those are my emotions I am talking about -- everyone else is fine. Volcano is having a blast running after the ball, palling around with his friends, and working up a sweat. Hubby loves watching the drills, and he often assists the coach with a game or two. Monkey loves sitting with me on the sidelines, eating the numerous apple slices and cheese sticks I have packed to keep her entertained.
Me, on the other hand... I am on an emotional roller coaster. Often times, I am proud to watch Volcano improve his skills, giving his best effort and having a great time. I laugh when he and all the other 4-year-olds run out of bounds like a bunch of grapes stuck on the vine, chasing the ball without knowing what to do once they get it. And I even cheer when a child -- any child -- makes a goal (which is rare). But there are those times where I am sitting in my fold-up chair, with Monkey squished beside me, that I sit there seething, silently annoyed at a certain other parent.
Jeannie is the typical Hypercompetitive Mom, with a dash of the Self-Proclaimed Expert mixed in for good measure. Her husband coaches soccer for the 9 and 10 year-olds, so obviously her 4-year-old son Braden has played before. He knows how to steal the ball, stop it, dribble it, and kick it into the goal. However, what Braden still hasn't mastered is passing the ball -- sharing it with a fellow teammate. And what is annoying, maddening really, is that Jeannie doesn't tell her son to share, but cheers loudly each and every time he makes a fricken' goal. Every. Single. Time. Which, you have to realize, is a lot of times. He has become a Ball Hog, and his mother is overjoyed. I, on the other hand, am pissed.
Like I said, Braden is admittedly a good soccer player. It is obvious. All the other kids run after the ball like a pack of wolves after a steak dinner -- no plan, no direction, just hunger... hunger to let their foot make some kind of contact with the ball. But Braden has a plan. He steals the ball, dribbles it down the field, and scores. Consistently. I actually prefer my son is on the opposite team than on the same team as Braden: Volcano's score may be lower, but at least he has a chance of touching the ball.
Now, this doesn't mean Jeannie lets Braden's actions speak for themselves. Oh no! She has to make sure we all know that "Braden has been playing soccer since he was a baby," and that "He came out of the womb kicking" (hahaha) and that "He knows what he's doing -- his dad coaches soccer."
ARGH!! I want to scream at her, "WE KNOW! WE'RE SITTING RIGHT HERE! WE HAVE EYES! BRADEN IS GOOD AND MY KID SUCKS -- ARE YOU HAPPY NOW?! NOW SHUT THE &%$# UP SO I CAN WATCH MY KID PICK GRASS, ALRIGHT?!"
Instead I just sit there, feeding Monkey grapes and cheering Volcano on. And I try desperately to ignore Jeannie. Inside I am fuming, and I can't wait to let it all out on the ride home. Every time practice ends, I slam the car door shut, and I start to rant, "Jeannie was at it again! Why can't she just keep her mouth shut?! I seriously am going to lose it if I have to hear one more time about what a brilliant soccer star her son is! Like there's not enough hype with the Beckhams in L.A., we have to hear about her son and what a wonderful soccer player he is!"
So Hubby, after listening patiently, finally asked me, "Why do you even come? It seems to upset you every time."
I thought silently for a bit. Why do I go? Hubby could take care of Volcano without me, and Monkey and I could just hang out at home.
But, I realized, I like going. Monkey and I have fun watching, munching on snacks, and I like talking with (most of) the other parents. Plus, Volcano waves to me from the field, and shouts, "Hey, Mommy!" And when he finally does kick the ball, he runs over to us and gives us a big hug. "I did it!" he shouts. Also, it's become a tradition that we all go out for ice cream afterwards -- win or lose. Now... why would I want to miss all of that?
So, it looks like I have to tolerate Jeannie for a couple hours a week, all in the name of supporting my son. But that means that Hubby has to allow me to rant once a week as well. Or I might have to tear Jeannie's head off with my bare hands so she would just SHUT UP!