"Soccer is so much fun!"
"Look at these awesome long socks with leg armor in them - they're pink!"
"You get to bring a water bottle!"
"We will be approximately 5 feet away from you at all times!"
"I need a way to kill a Saturday morning with you once it gets too cold for the pool!"
These are the enticements I gleefully sang (and/or thought in my head) as I tried to sell my daughter on the idea of taking soccer lessons with the other 3-5-year-olds in our town whose parents had $54 to spend on a fall weekend diversion. I thought it would be a good way for her to meet some new friends, run around a little, and start learning about organized sports. Also, I wanted to survey the market on over-contraptioned folding chairs/mobile beds up close and personal.
I am under no pretensions about my daughter's athletic predestination. The sportiest I get is when I run on a treadmill for the extra reading time. My husband had to stop playing volleyball in high school when it was confirmed he would never stand taller than (the bottom of) the net.
I get that the chances of us sending either of our children to college on an athletic scholarship are as good as our chances of sending either of our children to a playdate with Snooki's off-spring: 50/50. I also get, though, that we probably won't be able to fully fund our children's college tuitions unless they figure out some way to absorb some of the costs. So it really wouldn't hurt them to try to surprise us in the athletics department.
What I'm saying here is that I didn't sign my daughter up for Saturday soccer with visions of the NCAA dancing in my head...but lightning has to strike somewhere, right? Bolt of electricity, consider my daughter your circuit connector.
This is a bad metaphor.
If history has taught me anything, it's that my daughter so far is trending in line with genetics. When she tries to do the doggy-paddle, she kind of looks like she's sweetly drowning. When she tried tumbling, she tumbled, but not really in the way the class had in mind. When she took dance classes, she spent the end-of-session "performances" staring at her feet and not moving an inch of her body. When offered the chance to play tennis or golf, she opts for coloring.
I am also learning that she is incredibly shy in new situations. My chatty, exuberant story-teller becomes a mute who tries to hide under my skirt. Drop-offs become an exercise in subterfuge and awkward clothes maneuvering.
Being a fast learner, I figured that a class with people she didn't know doing a sport she'd never tried was just the thing to make this fall a success. I tried to prep her and psych her up with the above exhortations. I let myself believe her when she expressed some remote excitement at the idea of soccer, and tried to ignore the fact that the excitement seemed directed more at the post-activity snack than the activity-activity activity.
Fifteen bouncy, happy, screamy children greeted us on Saturday morning. The field where they would be having their lessons was about the size of an average house hallway. The parents were camped out on the sidelines. When the parents extended their arms, they could touch their children. When the parents whispered, their children could hear them. When the parents breathed out, their children's hair blew in the wind.
This was all too much for my daughter. We were too far away, the noise was overwhelming, and the implicit requirement that she move her body was too rigorous. If we really wanted her to do this thing called soccer, couldn't she do it while standing on our feet and holding our hands? Or could we perhaps hoist her up on our shoulders?
We pep talked. We cajoled. We threatened. We said things like:
"You're going to play and you are going to like it!"
"See all those people your height out there? Those are children and they will be your friends! Now MOVE!"
"Come on, just move one foot. One foot. It will be fun! You can DO it!"
"TWIRL AN ANKLE, FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!!!"
Nothing worked. This is how she spent the entire 45 minutes:
My daughter is the one in the pink shin guards and the pout. The statue one.
You would have thought we were condemning her to a life of canned tuna fish and Shia LaBeouf movies. Actually, she probably would have preferred that life.
At one point, she complained to me that she didn't want to play because the ball was "too wet." From the morning dew, you see.
Somewhere around the 40th minute, she did kick a ball. I think because she wanted to drill it into my head in retaliation. Still, we celebrated like she'd just Abby Wambach-ed the thing into the back of the net. We told her she'd had a real breakthrough and had gotten herself out of her funk. In truth, we were mostly telling that to ourselves, but we let her half-believe it too.
Mercifully, there's no class next week because of the Labor Day weekend. Which gives us 2 weeks to convince her that momentary participation does not mean eternal separation, and we'll still be her parents. Sitting right there. Three skips away from her.
Or, it gives us 2 weeks to convince ourselves that we can cut our losses now and start spending our money on bigger coloring books.