--Lisa Simpson's dance teacher, The Simpsons
Nathan's first week of soccer, he was more or less oblivious to what was going on. Which, as I've said before, is totally fine and expected. He's only four years old, and I have to imagine that being thrown out in the middle of a soccer field with a bunch of people watching and yelling at you is very overwhelming for a four-year-old. As I also said, I was disappointed that he didn't burn off a little more energy out on the soccer field, but I figured things would improve in time.
But the second week of soccer, Nathan's attitude went from complete indifference to active dislike. As in, I hate soccer! Soccer's the worst! Bill and I had to carry him onto the field and plant him over the line, and then he did that classic kid trick where he refused to stiffen his legs when we plopped him down, so he wouldn't stand up. And then when it was time to leave the soccer field, he was so oblivious that we had to go and prod him off the field, too.
At that point my natural maternal instinct to compare my kid to all the other kids kicked in. What was wrong with him? I understood that the general spaciness on the soccer field was age-appropriate, but it didn't seem that any of the other kids were actually hating the soccer experience the way Nathan was.
Another mom, who has three children, tried to reassure me that it was fine, he's only four, stop worrying, etc. I inferred that I was coming across as a crazy, pushy, helicopter parent, doing the kind of obsessive worrying that mothers of only children are thought to do. Which, honestly, I mean the excessive worrying part is true, but in general I think my standards for children's extracurricular activities are pretty low. I generally believe an activity to be a success if Nathan:
1. Has fun
2. Interacts with other children
3. Burns off energy/gets tired out
That's it, honestly. I'm not expecting that he will master every activity he tries. In fact, I more or less assume he won't master anything at age four. I realize that activities for young children are going to involve some amount of chaos, and that little kids aren't always going to cooperate perfectly with the plans adults have for them. Again, I really only have the three above goals for Nathan's activities. But in Week 2 of soccer, it was pretty clear that we weren't achieving any of them.
My hopes were pretty low for Week 3's double-header, which was disappointing because my dad and stepmom were coming to watch.
But maybe it was third time's a charm, or just dumb luck, but Nathan rocked the soccer field his third week out. I mean, he's not the team's star player, and again, I don't care, because clearly he achieved my three goals for youth activities.
He had fun:
He burned off energy:
He interacted with other kids:
Seriously, this was the first time he even participated in the post-game high-fiving.
Here he is throwing the ball back in after an out-of-bounds:
And a shot of him actually kicking the ball:
At the end of the double-header, he was exhausted and his socks were filthy. I've never been so excited to wash a load of laundry with bleach in my life.
What will Week 4 bring?
(All photos taken by my dad, who has a really awesome camera.)