If you ever want to know which kid is mine on the soccer field, just look for the sweaty blond boy with a huge grin on his face as he’s booking it back and forth. This kid fell in love with the sport the first time I shoved him into shin guards (OMG, THEY WERE SO TINY!) and tall socks (OMG, WHY ARE TALL SOCKS ON LITTLE KIDS SO ADORABLE?) at 4-years-old, and never turned back.
Now in Middle School, the love is the same, but the experience is a wee bit different. Like the smells. HOLY MOTHER OF OLFACTORY AWARENESS, THE SMELLS. And the fact that (usually) no one is picking dandelions instead of protecting the goal.
I’ve always enjoyed watching him play and being part of a community of true soccer moms. No, not all of us own a whistle (or a minivan), but there are some things each and every one of us members of this club know all too well:
1. Bruises everywhere always.
2. Fourteen seconds after they break in new cleats, it’s time to buy the next size up.
3. The importance of a collapsible stadium chair with the built-in canopy and dual cup holders.
4. How to spot a size four ball from an infinitesimally-larger size five ball from across the yard.
5. Holey cakes of cleat mud never come off on the field, parking lot, or in the car: only in your kitchen.
6. It’s okay for the kids’ flesh to get torn up from each others’ cleats during practice, but OH, BY ACHILLES’ HEEL, NOT THE FIELD. THE FIELD IS A SPECIAL SPECIAL SNOWFLAKE WE CANNOT CAUSE WIDDLE BOO-BOOS TO.
7. Those girls have cardio game that can kick our cardio game’s a*s.
8. Hexagon-shaped injuries are a thing.
9. How you could cry with pride when you see your kid respectfully do the “Good game” line after a hard loss, but how he’d actually murder you if you did that in front of the guys.
10. Nothing on earth smells as bad as her soccer gear bag. NOTHING.
11. That they don’t even notice they’re still wearing their tall socks and shin guards hours later, but just the sight of them makes your legs all itchy and sweaty.
12. You once grumbled about early morning games until you realized how much less they suck than middle-of-your-Saturday games.
13. Soccer tans, no matter how much sunblock you attack them with on a daily basis.
14. That there will always be a variety of soccer goals in your yard.
15. The “I’m FINE, Mom” look they give you while bleeding on the field so you don’t get all Mommy on them in public.
16. That there are two kinds of snack parents: Those who bring orange slices and those who bring Munchkins.
17. The dirtier and sweatier the kid, the better the game was.
18. You’ll take 100 pictures with your phone during games. Exactly none of them will be a clear shot of your kid.
19. Kicking his ball into his own goal by accident is the 10th circle of hell to a soccer kid.
20. For every one kid who claims a ref’s call is unfair there are six parents on the sidelines loudly agreeing. VERY LOUDLY AGREEING.
21. Somehow you’re almost as exhausted as they are after games, even though you just sat there the whole time in your souped-up travel chair sipping iced coffee.
Graphic: Kim Bongiorno