Get Your Head In The Game!

Another dad shouted these words out at Maddie’s soccer class last weekend.

“Come on, you need to get your head in the game!”

I looked over at who he was yelling at, his daughter, who was coming off the field in tears. She was probably 4, the same age as Maddie.

‘Really?’ I thought. ‘You have GOT to be kidding me?!’

Maybe he was just being funny. I glanced over again. Nope, we has serious. He was berating his 4-year old for not having what it takes.

Maddie had to go pee so I walked with her to the bathroom, still dazed.

We passed by other fields where groups of moms and dads could be heard screaming encouragement at their sons and daughters. We come here every Saturday, to a giant warehouse  housing several indoor soccer fields. A factory churning out little athletes, fueled by the hopes and dreams of their parents.

Part of me could relate – the part that wants desperately to be out there on the field. Soccer has always been my game. When we introduced it to Maddie I was eager to share my skills and knowledge with her. Sometimes my enthusiasm overwhelms her, and I have to constantly remind myself that this is HER life. I want her to explore and discover on her own, and guide her in as light a manner as possible. It scares me, the power we have as parents. I am constantly evaluating what influence I have on my daughter, both positive and negative.

We return to our field and Maddie runs out to her class, which is 45 minutes long. That’s 30 minutes too long, in her book. She can dribble and pass and shoot with the best of them. But then she gets tired. I don’t push her. Like I said, she’s only 4. She’s really just here for the ice cream (shhhh…don’t tell anyone!)

I sit down next to the other parents who are sitting along benches, peering through the safety glass at their children. There is a twitchiness in the air. For most of us it is a new feeling, watching our kids from afar. Up to now it has been a shared experience, parent and child doing something together. I can see their pride in their faces. And I know they all feel the same thing I do, an empty uneasiness and distant fear, as our children practice independence out there on the field. All we can do is watch. And shout things, like “Get your head in the game!”

I suppose, as a parent, you get better at this too, with practice. Letting go, yet needing them to return.

And as children, growing, looking over for help less and less often.

Just knowing that someone is there, watching from behind the glass or on the sidelines, cheering you on, becomes enough.

4 thoughts on “Get Your Head In The Game!

  1. Jomama says:

    Awesome, post, Dave!

    We have been totally enjoying Barley’s venture into competitive soccer, but there are times when we worry that this will become “too competitive, too stressful, too macho.”

    All we can do is keep watching him, encouraging him, and listening to him. When he says he is tired or doesn’t want to play, try to figure out whether he needs a little push to get past a temporary block, or he needs a break away from the game. It’s a fine line.

    1. goo goo dadda says:

      Getting back to you on this, only 2 weeks late! Sheesh! Still don’t see how you can write so much while being such a busy, productive mom! You’re amazing!

      Thanks again for the feedback! It’s fun to hear other parenting stories, and to compare notes. Thank god there is no final to study for!



  2. Bruce Linton says:

    Great post….more dads need to speak up about how we as parents “support” and “participate” in our childrens sports programs. I have a son and a daughter…and coached softball for my daughter and her friends and little league for my son…wow the dads at little league were tough on the kids…it was difficult…my kids are all grown up now and those were really precious times…your post brought a lot of memories back to me…visit my website and if you want I can send you a copy of my book “Finding Time for Fatherhood, men’s concerns as parents” (send your mailing address to me) If you enjoy it maybe you can recommend it on your blog? …I wrote a chapter on “The Rites of Spring”’s about kids and sports.
    I am also a member of East Bay Dads….Bruce

    1. goo goo dadda says:

      Hi Bruce-

      Thanks for the feedback, I really appreciate it. I would be honored to read your book (I will send you my address ). I have visited your website and think what you are doing is so amazingly great. Any chance to help out another caring dad is a worthy cause indeed.


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