My kid is playing soccer on his school team. He has about 11 years of soccer experience. He understands the game, has excellent footwork, and can put the ball where it needs to be with accuracy.
Our High School struggles with sports. It’s a small high school, and putting together enough players for team sports is a challenge. Last year, Cole played flag football, and it wasn’t pretty. The players on the other teams were three times larger than our players and outweighed them by 200 pounds. My six-foot player’s head ran into the kneecap of a player on the opposing team, and he ended up with a concussion. Ok, I’m exaggerating a little — but not about the concussion. This year, the school made the decision to try to form a soccer team.
Cole was excited about soccer. He was, for the most part, enthusiastic about practice, and he was made captain of the team, presumable for his leadership ability and skill (another mom told me this), and recruited more players.
The first game rolled around, and Cole and another teammate missed the bus to the game, which was way out where God lost his sandals (30 miles on a Friday night, in a Chicago suburb) They missed the bus because math class ran late, and they went to get water.
Do you picture me ranting and raving about the bus leaving? Nope, the bus left on time. The boys were late. Do you picture me being angry with Cole? Nope. Cole called his teammates and let them know he would find transportation to the game and then called me and told me they were late to the bus and that it had left without them. Cole then asked if I could meet them and give them a ride to the game. Since I was already planning to go to the game, I said yes. By driving strategically (really), we made it to the game at the scheduled 5:30 p.m. starting time before our other players and the coach. However, as we arrived, the ref and the other team were leaving. Huh?
It seems they had a schedule that listed the game at 5:00 p.m., while our schedule listed the game at 5:30 p.m. The boys — with a little support from me — talked the ref and the other coach into staying and playing the game. The bus rolled up 10 minutes later, and the game was played as planned. We won. YAY. Following the game, the boys apologized to the coach for missing the bus and being late.
Can we say that the boys’ missing the bus saved the game? Of course not (well I can, but I won’t). But the reality is, if they had made the bus, the game would not have been played.
Excited about the big win, Cole spoke to me over the weekend about some fundamentals he felt the coach could work on in practice to help the new players — throws in and side kicks (in case you want to know these things). He asked me if I thought he should mention these things to the coach. I said sure, but not in front of the other players. So, on Tuesday he arrived early to practice and spoke to the coach about his suggestions. Wrong again, Mommy breath. The coach was not receptive to Cole’s suggestions, no matter how well intended.
At the start of practice, the coach lectured Cole and his teammate about responsibility and accountably and told them to run laps for missing the bus. They ran the laps (but not joyfully). The rest of the practice did not go well.
A little side note about Cole. He has an extremely long wick and seldom gets angry, and has never in 14 years of being a Waldorf student been called out for being disrespectful to a teacher or other adult (ok, full disclosure — when he was two, he said no to washing his hands in our parent-child class because he didn’t like the purple soap). He’s has played team sports for 11 years, and while he has certainly liked some coaches more than others, and vice versa, he was never pulled out of game or put on the bench for his attitude. He finished practice and arrived home very angry.
Boys are so different from girls when it comes to anger and negotiation. Girls want to process and talk about it, while boys want to punch something. Cole and I discussed how best to talk to the coach at the next practice — how to create a win-win situation, how to acknowledge the other person’s point of view. And we talked about the fact that the last word belonged to the coach. It wasn’t easy between teeth gnawing, table pounding, and a few choice swear words, but I did my best to prepare Cole for the next practice. I even suggested he speak to a teacher about helping to mediate a conversation between him and the coach.
I DID MY BEST.
But despite my best efforts, Wednesday practice didn’t go well.
Cole and two teammates walked off the field. According to them, the coach had squeezed the fun right out of soccer and had no interest in having a relationship with them or any of the kids on the team. The word bi-polar may have also come up. This generation of kids is scary.
When Joe and I parented together, I could count on him to take the low road and call the coach names, while I took the high road and was the noble negotiator. That worked so well for me.
I’ll let you know how it turns out. Thanks for reading and making my long night a little less lonely.