Thunder Bay, Ont. writer Susan Goldberg is a transplanted Torontonian and one of two mothers to two boys. Follow along as she shares her family’s experiences.
September’s nearly over, and you know what that means: October. And with October comes soccer.
Rowan’s soccer season starts in earnest next week. And when soccer begins, our relatively laid-back schedule gets blown out of the water. The kid has five — five! — practices a week. And all of a sudden, our schedules will revolve around those practices, the early evenings and weekend days a complicated dance of driving and dinner and carpools and if-you’re-there-then-I’m-here parental negotiations. There will be at least one out-of-town tournament, not to mention fundraising and keeping track of different uniforms. Not to mention keeping said uniforms clean.
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There will be shin pads that smell like goat, and shoelaces in knots and lost water bottles.
There will also be money — lots of it. The fees are already heavily, generously, subsidized by our soccer club, but the cheque we’ll write will still be hefty, and the travel will add up as well. Gas money alone to get to all those practices could probably fund (just for example) a couple of nice dinners out for me and Rachel.
As you can tell, I’m slightly mixed about the whole soccer thing. Growing up, I was the classic rink rat, dragged along to my brother’s punishing schedule of hockey practices and games. Both my mother and my father were dyed-in-the-wool hockey parents, deeply interested in the game — and in my brother’s progression in it — which meant that I spent an awful lot of time at the local rink. Thankfully, the local rink was attached to the local library, which meant that I could read quietly when I wasn’t skulking around empty changing rooms or sneaking treats from the vending machines with the claims I filched from my father’s dresser. If I were a more generous person, I would credit my obsession with books and reading, my life as a writer, with all that hockey time spent at the library. But I’m not that generous. Mostly, I think I would have rather just stayed home.
Rowan, however, is not one iota mixed about the whole soccer thing. And even though I vowed, before I had children, that I would not over-schedule them; and even though I vowed as a child that as soon as I was old enough to stay home alone I would never again hang around arenas watching sports that didn’t particularly interest me; and even though it is time-consuming and expensive, my son’s passion for this sport wins out.
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Frankly, the kid loves soccer. He’s also good at it. But, most importantly — from my perspective at least — he needs it. He needs to kick a ball around and run hard and sweat for at least a half-dozen hours a week, at minimum. He has vast, vast stores of energy, this child, and he needs an outlet for it, one that leaves him breathless and happy and excited and hungry and relaxed for those non-soccer hours.
There will be October, and after that November and December, the dark and frigid winter months stretching out ahead of us, with the kids too often cooped up inside. And, trust me, during those months I will be more than grateful to unleash my son and all his pent-up energy onto the soccer field. I will drive him there, and I will teach him how to keep track of his own uniforms, and I will un-knot shoelaces and, every so often, I will look up from my book on the sidelines, and wave to him and cheer.