(Another guest-blogging appearance by Tim)
We entered another parenting epoch this weekend with Danny's opening game of Smyrna soccer with the U-4 "Magic." For the next 16 years, our Saturday mornings will likely be filled with harried breakfasts, searching for uniforms, and trips to far-flung fields in pursuit of little league glory. However, while parental cynicism may seep in down the road, Saturday's inaugural gameday was an exuberant affair, as Danny's love for all-things sports translated directly to the field.
First, and perhaps most importantly in Danny's mind, was the chance to suit up in the gold "home" uniform, complete with official soccer socks, shin-guards, and cleats. After Daddy industriously safety-pinned the much-too-large shorts, Danny raced around the upstairs ready to take on Ronaldinho. For my part, full-on uniforms with multiple jersey colors is ridiculous for 3 year-olds, but perhaps I'm just nostalgic for my own first venture into organized sports - indoor soccer at the Kenmore, NY YMCA 30 years ago where every kid wore whatever t-shirt their parents sent them in.
The Magic are coached by Coach Ty and Coach Eric who should be lauded for their patience in spending hours each week wrangling 3 year-olds. This being the first organized game, neither coaches, parents, nor kids knew quite what to expect. There are appropriately small soccer fields with appropriately small goals, and they divide the teams across two fields so every kid is "playing" at all times. The way it actually works, about 20% of the kids sit crying on the sidelines with their parents, 30% stand on the field and never move, 30% run around somewhat but are typically on the periphery of action, and 20% enthusiastically chase the ball down the field trying to score goals. Which goal is never a concern...shooting at your own goal is just as good as shooting at the other team's. There is no passing, and there is very little sense of competition...kids from the rival Lightning and homestanding Magic would happily follow each other toward the same goal until one or the other kicked it in.
Danny fell squarely into the last 20%, vigorously chasing the ball from one end to the next throughout the 45 minutes. He was a happy, flush, sweaty mess by the end, and eagerly asked "do we get to do this again next Saturday?" He scored his share of "goals," drafting alongside Emma, the Magic's best player and Mia Hamm of U4 soccer. As importantly, Danny was a good friend to his buddy Parker, who drifted between enthusiasm and frustration. At one point, Danny stopped mid run and went over to the sidelines where Parker had sought solace from his mommy, trying to encourage Parker to return to the fray.
As more kids drifted toward the sidelines, the coaches mercifully called the game a draw. Playing the role of "Team Mom," I was well-prepared with the most important moment of the morning: juice boxes and teddy grahams for the mighty Magic. Good to see that regardless of how it went on the field, every kid left happy.