just ponderin'

…on maine (and soccer)

Look at that photo above.

Yep. Right there. It’s stunning isn’t it. The juxtaposition of late blooming, fuchsia rosa and the greens of grass and trees against the stunning white of the old barn. That yard and garden is right across from the water, you know. Yep. It’s on the coast of Maine. Midcoast to be more specific. It is flush with humming birds, chipmunks, squirrels (grey, red, AND black), owls, deer, the occasional moose that makes it across the bridge onto the island…sigh. This year we even saw our neighborhood porcupine again. Spike. Love that prickly guy.

But you know what you don’t see in that photo?

A soccer ball.

That’s why it’s so calm and cheery. Add one of those black and white demonic leather orbs and the mood darkens. Oh, it isn’t the ball itself. It’s what the ball represents. I’ve got a teenaged soccer player in my house. And he’s played since his little shorts touched the tops of his socks. That demon sphere represents another months-long season of ever-changing schedules, travels near and far (some involving suspect motels and tournaments registering thousands of kids, all of whom naturally will be getting a college scholarship to play) uniform washing, way-to-long stinky sock un-balling, along with ballet-like line changes of adults with tricked out folding chairs, blind refs, biased refs, or beaten down refs (depending on the game), cold mornings, wet afternoons, and – oh, ya, I’m gonna say it – Soccer Parents.

No, I’m not like ‘them’, NONE of us are like ‘them’…which sort of leads to a weird universal scientific oddity that exists here (might be string theory, not sure): If none of us is like ‘them’ and all of use know who ‘they’ are…hmmm. Thought for later (though my initial mental link is from the movie, ‘When Harry Met Sally’, when they’re in the restaurant and Sally is pressuring Harry because he is insisting no woman in the world has ever faked a ….. well….. (my kids might read this one day) woo woo, and she says that every woman at one time fakes said woo woo and the math doesn’t work and hence there is much woo woo faking at the table in the restaurant). Swear to God, that’s where my head went. From soccer parents to woo woo faking. Sorry.

Okay, so we’ve established that YOU are I are not ‘those’ soccer parents, and I could probably stand next to you on the sidelines, but I swear (and you can ask my friend, Amy, about this because I was texting with her about it earlier today) I have an entire routine to avoid the other parents who are not you.  I didn’t trademark my methods so go ahead and use them. Wait. I agreed to the terms of agreement for my blog hosting place. Nah. They won’t care. Activity plagiarize your heart out.

  1. Arrive at least 10 minutes late to each soccer game (“those” soccer parents will arrive early to stake their claim to the 50 yard line (did I mention I’m more football that futbol?). If you have to drive your child to the field, drop them off (making sure their teammates are actually there (I learned that one the hard way years ago) and find the nearest local coffee place to get a coffee (GPS in your car or on your phone will help you enormously). This allows you to still arrive 10 minutes late even though your kid was responsibly early (If the coach demands your kid be there super early, locate the nearest Barnes and Noble).
  2. Upon arrival, locate a position far enough away so that if they – in no particular order – scream at a ref, scream at their kid, scream at an opposing team’s kid, scream at your kid, snark about the opposing coach’s intensity (very ironic and very funny), coach their kid from the sideline (even though your coach practically made them put their hand on a bible at the beginning of the season and swear they wouldn’t), coach your kid from the sideline, coach your whole team from the sideline…whew! – you will be far enough away. Mind you, this won’t necessarily keep you from hearing what is screamed, but it will save them from hearing you. This is important, I know, because as I get older, I have less of a filter and you might too. I must confess to the occasional ‘holy moly!’ or ‘wow!’ escaping from my lips before I can shut them. For a few years, people around me thought I was exclaiming these things in agreement – sort of like an exclamation point to their shrieking inappropriately at an official. But I think they’re on to me.
  3. Bring a book. But not a good one, certainly not one of those book club type books like ‘the Help’ or that soft porn one with a tie on the front because someone is bound to be in a book club and actually want to talk to you about the book. And it could be really bad because they might ask you to join their book club…which would mean that you had several things in common and for sure mean you have to stand with them at soccer games. I recommend something on neuroplasticity or keynesian economics (you could go for the laffer curve but it sounds kind of humorous and someone might ask you about it).
  4. Bring a dog. But only if you know the field. See, some fields don’t allow dogs on the field but the fence allows a perfect view of the game. These are great. If you get waved over, you get to smile and point to your dog. It’s even better if your dog is not cute or is scary. You might think of applying makeup around the eyes to enhance this effect. This has the added benefit of keeping the players’ younger siblings from hanging out with you for the entire game. Don’t get me wrong. I like little kids. On a case by case basis.

Clearly, the only 100 percent certain way to not be approached and pulled into the fold is abstinence. Even staying in your car isn’t a sure thing. But then you wouldn’t be able to see the game, and we all love to see our kids play sports (well, except my friend, Kim, who stopped going to her son’s soccer games at one point when he was about six because instead of running after the ball, he was stopped at midfield, posing and proclaiming himself to be a tree. And then later on he was put in goal and was inexorably tangled in the net within minutes. Seriously. The ref had to stop the game to get him unstuck. Kim avoided soccer for like three seasons after that).   But most of us do like to watch our kids play – at least the ones who don’t mimic flora on the field.

Be sure to have fun out there. And thanks for readin’.

Elena Peters

midlife blogger & pinterest master

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