.Y.S.O. stands for “All Your Saturdays are Ours”. At least that’s what someone told me once a long time ago. Well we’re in the thick of it now. At long last our daughter is in organized soccer and today was the 5th or 6th Saturday in a row where we had to be up and at ‘em and on the field by the time we’re usually just tapping into the Saturday morning Starbucks.
There are times when my daughter is bullish on soccer, and times when she’s bearish. But the cold, hard reality is that soccer isn’t her thing. She does it, and seems to have fun while she’s doing it, but mostly she just likes getting dressed up in the uniform, cleats and shin-guards. When she’s out on the field she often gets caught up just watching the action, even as a scrum of 5-year-olds passes right by her trying to remember which direciton to kick the ball. It usually takes a well-projected shout of encouragement from her Dork Dad to rouse her from whatever record is playing in her head and remind her that there’s a soccer game she’s supposed to be a part of. “GO GET THE BALL, LOVIE!!!” screams an obnoxious part-time Dentist, part-time Dork Dad, full-time embarassment to Mrs. Dork Dad in a way that echoes off the foothills and makes all the parents on the other field glad their kids aren’t playing on this one. That usually snaps her back to the situation, and she suddenly revvs up the “fierce”, gets the I’m-gonna-get-you-sucka’ look on her face, sprints down the field and kicks the ball. Her job done, the “fierce” melts away as quickly as it came and she’s content to watch the other kids on the field play until her Dork Dad shocks her system with another overdose of encouragement. Her relative level of enthusiasm ossilates based on any number of factors including how much sleep she got the night before, how annoying her little brother chose to be that morning, how difficult it was to get her hair done as she poked at her bowl of cheerio’s, and whether Jupiter is in the house of Venus.
Things did not bode well this particular Saturday morning. The drama was in full-effect. She was pouty and clingy, and generally wasn’t interested at all in getting out and playing with the rest of her team. But this is a team-thing after all, and as much as it’s about developing the physical skills, it’s also about learning what it means to be comitted to a team. So this Dork Dad made her go out there, despite her firm objections, when it came her time to take the field.
She was a little less connected than usual, but when her Dork Dad woke the dead with his “encouragement”, she managed to focus her annoyance at having to play at all into running even harder, and making her I’m-gonna-get-you-sucka’ face look even more intimidating. She managed to touch the ball once or twice and her mother and I were prepared to call that a victory for the day.
Now it just so happens that we’ve got a couple of ringers on our team. The coaches’ sons are little 5-year-old soccer prodigies, and they’re BOTH on our team. That, combined with the fact that today’s opposing team seemed to have absolutely no natural talent for anything other than chess and picking daisies and our little team started to run up the score. Now at this level it truly is all about having fun, and to their credit the coaches do an AMAZING job in that regard. There are no positions. Nobody keeps score. Everyone cheers no matter what team scores a goal. But things were rediculously lopsided today. When halftime rolled around my daughter seemed to have exercised some of the demons she woke up with, and her general affect seemed marginally improved. Orange slices for everyone, some quick pep-talking from the coaches, and the kids headed out for the second half with a slightly less annoyed Dork Daddy daughter on the field.
Then, a miracle occoured.
Maybe it was the talentless opposing team made up of future A.V. club and D&D club members. Maybe she was in the right place at the right time. Maybe Jupiter moved from the house of Venus to the house of Mars. But somehow, some way, the skies opened up, the clouds parted, the angels sang, a ray of light shone down on my little girl, the ball rolled in front of her, she kicked it…
…and it went in the goal!
When she turned around with a stunned look, as if to ask the parents cheering on the sideline if what just happened really actually happened, it took every ounce of will power this Dork Daddy had to keep from charging the field like a crazed hooligan after the game winning goal kick at the World Cup championships. I could almost hear the Ricky Martin playing in the background. When she finally realized that yes, that was an actual goal that she scored, the smile (missing a tooth in the front I might add) would have stretched all the way around her head if it could. I was so thrilled and relieved (that it finally happened) that I lost all semblance of self-restraint. I just couldn’t help it. My victory celebration on the sideline was shall we say, less than dignified. If it wasn’t clear at the beginning of the game to all the parents where my daughter got her “drama”, it was now. I didn’t care. My girl scored her first goal. Can I get an “AMEN!!”
After the game she was a different person. She asked if we could stick around so she could play soccer a little more. She took me and her little brother to an ajacent unused field and we kicked the soccer ball around, just the three of us, for another 20 minutes. When it was finally time to pack it in and head home she said to me, “Daddy, when I grow up I want to be a professional soccer player”.
Knowing my daughter, we’ll probably be right back into the drama next Saturday morning. But knowing my daughter I also know that that one goal made the entire season worth while.