Little Kickers, Big Parent Dreams: The Art of Surviving Summer Camp

I am a soccer mom.

Or at least I really want to be. After a failed attempt at introducing my daughter Hadley to soccer a couple of years ago, the dream was dead. I vowed I would only enroll her again if she asked.

That blessed day came a couple of months ago. Within an hour of her proclamation, I had her enrolled in a clinic to hone her skills, was counting down the days until I could register her on a team in the fall and had already plotted out her college team.

Evidently, I don’t do “casual” well.

The Little Kickers clinic consisted of an adorable yet eclectic crew of 4-6-yr-olds. Some wanted to be there, others looked around like they’d landed on another planet and a few deserters simply hit the playground. Coach Robin instituted some rules including “No carrying the ball and no sitting down in soccer.”

Talk about a hard-core boot camp.

The coach was overwhelmed by all the kids so I offered to help, which allowed 3-year-old Bode to join in the action. For seven classes, they did fun drills, learned to dribble and bonded during rain storms.

Well, most of them. The playground deserters and alien planet kids had long since dropped out.

The final day was the ultimate showdown: kids vs. parents. There were about nine kids vs. six grown-ups. One of the dads even showed up decked out in his cleats.

I didn’t have the heart to break it to him that we were playing a bunch of preschoolers.

It was the kids’ first “real” game and they traveled in swarms. With no less than five kids attacking the ball at a time, they were their own worst enemies and the parents barely needed to play defense.

I volunteered to be goalie and vowed to let one of the kids score. As luck would have it, Hadley got a breakaway. When she was a few feet away from me, she wound up. And then wound up again. I knew I had to make it look convincing with this much of a build-up,

And convincing I was. When she finally got around to kicking the ball into the goal, I hesitated just long enough before diving in a move so credible you would have sworn I was in the World Cup.

Hadley went on to score two goals and her brother melted down because “da kids aren’t sharing.” In the end, the parents let the kids win. I was thrilled for their victory until Hadley started smack-talking on the drive home.

“Hmmm. I guess the grown-ups aren’t so good, after all.”

I grimaced and took it but rest assured, she’s going down in Little Kickers II.

And I may even wear my cleats for the occasion.

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