“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!”
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.