A Riveting Soccer Story Worthy of Ted Lasso, Starring My 4-Year-Old

When you sign your pre-K daughter up for soccer, and you’re an optimist, you have a picture in your mind of how it will go.

You imagine this being the perfect outlet for her sporty, sparkplug personality. You envision her making friends and influencing people. (Well, the first one at least.) And you get your hopes up way too high. Or at least I do.

But as all parents and all optimists know, how you picture a thing going and how it actually plays out are wildly, sometimes comically, divergent.

When Violet’s soccer practices started, things got off to an inauspicious start. For the first 2 weeks, she dribbled the ball around the field with vim and vigor, a smile plastered on her face, with promising footwork that would have made Pele proud…

Right up until the moment when practice actually started, that is.

Then our tiny girl with the enormous personality just clammed up. She insisted that one of us hover behind her, helicopter-style, while the team huddled for instructions.

She timidly kicked the ball during Sharks & Minnows, a game where the minnows need to navigate the length of the field. When one of the sharks approached my little minnow, she simply turned around and kicked her ball toward the least shark-infested areas of the grassy field. And then she kept kicking the ball, right off the field, flagrantly disregarding the spray-painted boundaries.

Or she would just cower on the sideline with her ball, a furrowed brow entrenched on her tiny forehead. She managed to filibuster most of the second half of practice. And she did this more than once.

So the first few weeks made us wearily suspect we had made a mistake by signing her up. Ninety bucks down the drain, along with my high hopes. After two weeks, I felt pretty demoralized.

But then week 3 came along and things started looking up. Violet ran up and down the field with gusto during each scrimmage! Albeit while going full deer-in-the-headlights anytime the ball actually got close to her. But she was moving, so we were relieved to be moving in the right direction. 2 steps back, 3 steps forward! As far as I’m concerned, those 3 steps were leaps and bounds.

Which brings us to the first day of week 4. We assumed Violet would be riding high from the previous week’s progress, which we had gone out of our way to warmly and resoundingly affirm.

But instead, in a plot twist no would suspect (other than every single parent who has ever existed), she instead had an epic meltdown at home, said “I don’t like soccer!” and refused to go to practice. I was at work when this happened, but I gather the tantrum was a doozy. Which makes sense because in every conceivable way, from goofy joy to fiery temper flare-ups to warm and nurturing kindness, our Violet is a doozy.

So make that 2 steps back, 3 steps forward… and 4 steps back. There is a fine line between progress and regress, and parenting is a precarious high-wire balancing act along that wobbly wire.

Which brings us to Week #4, Day #2, Practice #8. We approached this evening with fear and trembling (okay, maybe just a momentary shudder) after the disaster that was Practice #7. But it’s always darkest before the dawn.

And when it re-dawned on our little girl that she does indeed love soccer, it brought quite a Violet-hued sunrise.

That night, and in both practices on the following week, our sparkplug of a girl plugged along with a spark in her step. She followed the ball tirelessly up and down the field. She got her foot on that ball numerous times during each scrimmage, displaying some snazzy footwork with her bright pink cleats. She listened to the coach without prompting. She looked over and beamed at her proud parents on the sidelines.

And in her most recent scrimmage, Violet Skye did something we would have thought unthinkable in the first two weeks, or on the night when she boycotted practice. She managed to snag… wait for it…

A hat trick! There were no goalies in this scrimmage, but that’s immaterial. My daughter netted 3 goals! I was, as you can imagine, beside myself. Beaming right along with my little sunbeam on the soccer field.

Like all great sagas, it was the best of times. And it was the worst of times.

For a few weeks, our girl was a shrinking violet.

And for one night, she was more of a Venus flytrap.

But then our tiny flower came into full bloom, like the sweet and radiant Violet she is.

Sweet, radiant, and if I do say so myself…

A little badass too.

One thought on “A Riveting Soccer Story Worthy of Ted Lasso, Starring My 4-Year-Old

  1. Our daughter was a bit older than Vi when she played soccer – but not more than a year or two. And she still has, and wears, the jersey she wore when she played. I treasure her one year of soccer and later on, her one year of basketball. So I can relate to your experience with your daughter.

    Liked by 1 person

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