Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Amoeba Ball

Luke has recently started playing soccer, and it is quite possibly the funniest thing I have ever seen in my life.
First of all, it's hard enough to get the attention of one four year old, but trying to get a group of eight to all do the same thing, at the same time, outdoors, is almost impossible. I know few people who are crazy or dedicated enough to even try. Most are absolute control freaks or head cases, oh, and one of them is my Mother. Yes, my Mother, Ellen, is the coach of Luke's team, which just makes the situation all the more hilarious. You see, my Mother is not the most co-ordinated of people, and she hates sports. The last time she coached soccer was when my little sister Cate was in grade school, and she spent most of the time braiding the hair of the girls on the team and applying make-up to their faces before games. Strategy was not as important as pretty ribbons that matched the uniforms. Surprisingly they won quite a few games. But I think it was mostly because the other teams thought they were being attacked by tiny hookers.

So, Ellen is back on the field, and trying to pull off a feat on par with herding cats or teaching monkeys to waltz. First of all, there is the problem of grass. I don't know who decided soccer should be played on a field, but they obviously weren't thinking of four year olds. Because four years like to do two things with grass: roll on it and throw it at each other. I am truly surprised that the field does not have to be reseeded every week. They really should thin about getting astroturf. The other main problem is that there are other kids on the field, and when four year olds are near each other they have to touch each other, and pull on each other's clothing, and sit on each other's heads. You can't get them to spread out, because then they wouldn't all be annoying each other.

Once past the grass and touching problems there is the fact that only one ball is allowed on the field. You see, the four year olds all want their own balls. And they are very particular about which ball they want. Tonight I watched Ellen spend ten minutes just trying to get everyone a ball they liked. Of course, after that adventure the kids were mentally exhausted and had to throw some grass to calm their nerves. Eventually they all managed to kick their balls down the field and back, stopping only occasionally when paths got crossed or someone just had to be touched. It was miraculous -- like watching a a group of wild hyenas suddenly stop and do a kick line. Of course the moment was soon lost when Ellen informed them they would now only be playing with one ball. They looked at her as if she had said she was going to cut off their ears.

With only one ball on the field things really got out of control. All of the kids saw only one thing: the ball. And they all wanted it with the white hot intensity of the sun. They saw nothing, they heard nothing, they were all about the ball. If the ball went out of bounds, they went out of bounds. If the ball went into the goal, they all ran into the goal. There were no rules, no strategies, just the ball. It's actually kind of zen if you think about it. Of course, some of the parents on the sidelines didn't see it the same way.

I don't know how people become hyper-competitive when it comes tho their children, I mean maybe they were raised by a wire monkey, but some of these Moms were absolutely insane for their children to kick harder, run faster and last longer than the other kids. They saw nothing funny in the kids not being in perfect formation, ready to become a soccer phenomenon. One little girl just wanted to sit on her ball. I saw nothing wrong with that, and it made me wish I had a ball of my own on which to perch. Her mother, on the other hand, was not happy. At one point, I'm not kidding, she threatened to take the girl's books away if she didn't get up and play. After all, a dumb competitive kid if better than a smart kid who just wants to sit on a ball.

Tonight's practice came to a rather abrupt end when the one thing that could top the ball, or grass throwing, or pinching each other arrived. Uniforms. It was as if someone handed my mother a bag of puppies covered in chocolate the kids were so excited. After all, who cares about playing soccer as long as you look like you play soccer. They pulled the shirts over their heads and all gleamed proudly. It didn't even bother them that they all had the shirts on backwards. To them, they looked fabulous. And Ellen, being Ellen, just beamed and helped them put their new soccer socks on their hands.


cate said...

We were the best damn tiny hookers in the league.

Amanda said...

You forgot snack time. They all live for the after practice snack.

mom said...

This is so funny,Lib, you are a good writer and I love this story.Thanks.