Friday, April 8, 2011

Soccer's Life Lessons

Forget anything I have said in the past that might have resembled a complaint about balls being kicked around in the house. Upon further contemplation, I now hold the sport to a higher regard. In our home, soccer is the cat's pajamas. It has changed my children's lives for the better. Because of the concentration and commitment required in First Born Son's intensive soccer training over the past 6 months, he has developed into a much more focused academic student. And, more recently, The Mr. enrolled Princess Commando in a highly competitive training program. Gone is the girl who would fold on the field- waffling between wanting to play and also wanting to hide on the sidelines. Soccer has given her a new found sense of confidence, dedication and purpose. Certainly soccer has provided my children with more than just an outlet for pent up energy. These are some of the other gifts that soccer has lent our family:

Soccer has ignited a spark of creativity in the children. They are constantly devising new games to play with the soccer ball. It always begins the same way. Someone is practicing his/her drills in the living room when an instigator inventive child comes along and swipes the ball transforming the sport into a new game melding dodge ball and an exercise of keep away. They chase each other around the couch for thirty minutes trying to release the ball from the swiper's grip. They implement innovative tactics to weaken the swiper's hold such as enticing The Baby to join in the pursuit as a means of making the swiper more cautious, slowing him down. Invariably, the tactics also involve finding another ball and throwing it at the swiper's head to knock him off balance or to wound him. The rules are vague but the children are quite clever when it comes to changing them on the spot. This game is a delightfully deviceful way to involve the whole family.

Soccer has also kindled the warm flame of brotherly love. I have not seen this much affection between the boys since....well, never.

The virtue of cooperation that is born of playing league soccer is not left on the field at the end of a good practice or hard fought game. The children weave it into their play time at home as well.

The Thrill of Victory and the Agony of Defeat 
Behold the image below. She did end up weakening the swiper's grip, allowing her to reclaim her ball and make a break for the kitchen. But, sadly, she, like her brothers before her, learned that in life, much like in a game of soccer, that moments of winning can be terribly short lived. And as quickly as you begin to fall into the dangerous distraction of celebrating your small victory- a breakaway, a goal, an idea for a novel social networking web site, etc, someone will come along and snatch your glory from you and leave you to cry in a corner of the kitchen.

Compassion and Resilience
While soccer is not considered a contact sport, vigorous struggles to regain the ball occur and injuries do happen. Recognizing a man down on the field, dropping to one's knee in solidarity while waiting for the verdict from the coach or medic is a solemn and humbling moment which enlivens commiseration even for a player on the opposing team. It is the healing power of that show support and unity which helps bring an injured player back to life and onto his feet- ready to join the game again. And, when all else fails, there is the promise of ice cream to lure one out of her physical pain. Well, maybe not for everyone.

 Here's a snapshot of what it really looks like after dinner in our house.

Have a great weekend everyone!


  1. LMAO @ The Baby's comment. Obviously, there is never a dull moment in your home, not that I thought there would be with 4 kids! Sports are definitely a way to develop all kinds of personalty traits though. I'm glad soccer has been good for your family.

  2. wow. are three of your kids redheads? i love red hair with a passion. good post! matthew could talk to you for hours about soccer. he had a tough time in high school especially, but soccer was always a safe place for him.

  3. I love how your posts are always light-hearted, but inspire at the same time! Always a great read. :)

    Plus, your illustrations are so unique and capturing! I especially love the baby-cat conversations.

  4. Thank you all for visiting, for reading, for taking the time to share your insights.
    @Krissy- it is crazy, always crazy around here. I should have also mentioned that Henry plays too. But, unfortunately, we could not find a travel- or more advanced league for him. And he really wants to play- and exceed the skill level of his older brother.
    @Emily- Yep, Max, Henry and Violet have red hair, Annalee is brunette with crazy highlights. She has one strand of silver- it's nuts. We definitely draw lots of attention and comments when we're out together because Jeff and I are dark. Now, we just tell people the redheads are adopted. Ugh, high school- I don't have a fond memory. Unfortunately I was so uncoordinated, I couldn't even use sports as my refuge. I am glad that Matthew was able to find a safe place with soccer.
    @Melanie- thank you, thank you. I feel the same way when I read your posts- inspired. And I am in awe of your talent- your painting, your photography.
    @wheatgerm- indoor soccer is great...until a lamp gets broken. but, truly, i am happy that they have an outlet. and even if they are annoying each other, they are playing together.

  5. Thanks so much for your kind words. :)
    As if your only in Buffalo! (I should have noticed from your profile, lol) We used to go shopping in NY quite a bit when I lived in Ontario (I'm from Kingston), I'm sure I will be making more trips in the future, and we should definitely meet up!

  6. I have a ribbon for you! Come by and get it!