Tag Archives: Soccer

Another Goal, A Different Story

As I sat watching the mass of 28 feet desperately battering the ball, I realized I couldn’t even see the goal. My husband was out of town and if my daughter scored her first goal, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to give him the play-by-play. But surely that won’t happen, I thought.

The couple next to me looked away during their conversation and missed their son’s first goal. That’s really a shame, I thought, reliving the glory of my son’s first goal a few days earlier. “Did we miss it?” they asked me. “Did our son just score and we missed it?” I was almost certain he did, but we sat on the opposite end of the field and the five- and six-year-olds huddle around the ball like vultures around a dying cow. It was hard to see exactly what happened.

My daughter played awesome defense. She fought for position against the boys to get a crack at kicking the ball. And then something happened. She kicked it toward the goal. And it was no accident. I craned my neck and sprang to the edge of my seat for a clear view. She was there, she kicked it with force, and it looked like it went in, but then a teammate came and kicked it in farther. Who made the goal?

She looked over at me, smirking. Bewildered, I clapped and smiled and gave her a big thumbs-up. The couple next to me asked, “Did she get it in?” I was thinking the same thing. Great. Now I had possibly missed out on the big rush of my daughter’s first goal because I hadn’t a clue as to whether she made one or not. It all happened so fast.

I figured I’d play it safe, see what she said after the game. She was no help. “Mommy, I almost made a goal,” she told me. “It went behind the goalie and then David kicked it in more.”

“Was the goalie in the goal?” I asked, now revealing my doubts.

“Yes.”

“Well then you made it.”

Another parent congratulated her. I figured he had some clue, maybe better than the parents next to me who had already missed their son’s goal. We asked her coach to be sure. He said it was on the line and rolled in, but I couldn’t help feeling a little suspicious.

So we had to tell my husband that we thought she made a goal, reenacting it at home, trying to put together evidence. The verdict? Either way, she was right there and she did great and she knows it.

I hate that her big moment sort of fizzled out by so much uncertainty. I wish her coach had congratulated whoever made it in the moment. But my daughter saw an opportunity and she took it. And I have a feeling this won’t be the last time she pushes her way through a pack of kids and scores big.

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GOAL!

It may have been the build-up. The longest set-up in the history of eight-year-old soccer. He stood there, trying to get the best angle, turning this way and that for what seemed like ages while some invisible force kept the other players far enough away for him to get everything lined up just right. Fists clenched, I held my breath and played it cool on the outside, but in my head I screamed, “JUST KICK IT! KICK IT! KICK IIIIIITT!” Finally, he did. And he scored what turned out to be the winning goal. My son’s first goal.

That goal wasn’t my success, but it sure felt like I had won. Teetering on the edge of my seat, it’s all I can do sometimes to even remain in it. There’s a lot of stress involved when you’re the parent watching the game. I never knew that before sitting through seasons of sports and games sometimes too painful to watch. It’s hard to see your kid being just like you.

My hope is always that he’ll overcome his fears because I never overcame mine. Isn’t that what we all want, for our kids to do better than we did? To not endure the same embarrassment? Courage. He needs courage. And it took awhile, but he’s finding it.

Lately my son had been improving little by little, making contact with the ball. Some days that’s all we could wish for. Then he had one good game. It was promising.

So last week, when my son’s team played a bunch of his classmates, I wondered how things would turn out. Would he step up and have fun with these boys he rough and tumbles with on the playground or clam up? When the ball came his way and his classmate was the one pushing it toward the goal, my son did nothing but step aside and let him score. I wanted to laugh and cry and yell at him to kick the stinking ball.

He said his heart was about to pound out of his chest. Nerves. Ah, just like me. I never did well at sports. I prayed the ball wouldn’t come near me. What my poor parents had to sit through. But seeing my son push himself and go farther in one season than I ever did my whole childhood, it makes a mom proud.

When my son scored last night on his third attempt, my nerves were shot. In an instant, a lump caught in my throat like a supersize wad of bubblegum. My eyes glazed over with a sheet of tears so fast, I feared I’d lose them there on the field, but not before I saw a smile spread across my son’s face and a humble celebration. And my husband, a quiet man who doesn’t give his emotions away easily, jumped from his chair with his arms raised in victory and cheered like he’d been living for that moment his whole life. The shock of that was enough to bring me back to reality.

I’m not sure who slept with a bigger smile on their face last night: my husband or my son. But the relief of knowing my son found his courage and maybe isn’t so much like me will make me smile for many nights to come.

Go, son. You did it. The success is yours.

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