If you think this post is long, you should have been at practice with us.
After putting in a full day of lawyering and working through lunch, I left the office early at 5:45 p.m. yesterday afternoon and rushed over to the school soccer field close to our house to meet Chuck and the kids for Luke's second official soccer practice. The weather was great - beautiful in the high 70s to low 80s. Absolutely gorgeous with blue skys, evoking thoughts of fall and candied apples. Luke, however, was not great.
He still spent the first half of the practice clinging to my leg or Chuck's leg and proclaiming that he doesn't want to play soccer. He held the ball in his hand and demanded that we put his shin guards on. No problem there, but it seemed a little pointless since he clearly was not going to kick the ball or get close to anyone else who was kicking the ball. Nonetheless, I complied with his request - anything to stop the whining and motivate him to go play with his team. I spent a few minutes trying to convince him that he needed to go listen to his coach and play with the team, "See? Doesn't it look fun?!" I put the happiest, most excited tone in my voice to evoke some sort of motivation on his part. I smiled and clapped. I jumped up and down with the exercises the kids were doing (pregnant belly and heels in tow). Nothing was working. Finally, while I pushed him through the drills of kicking a ball. I knocked the ball out of his hands and showed him how to kick it. He cried and whined as I physically guided him through the one drill as I kicked the ball along. (still in heels - high heels). Chuck sat on the sideline in silent frustration. Finally at the end of the drill he was whining so much that I grabbed his hand and led him away from his team.
At that point we had tried a pep talk, so I tried coersion. I said, "you can play on the playground after practice if you go over and practice with your team right now." (Read extremely frustrated inflection into every word out of my mouth). His response was, "I want to play on the playgroud noohoow" (Read annoying whiney inflection into every word out of his mouth). I tried reason, "Didn't you ask to play soccer?" His answer, "Yeehesss." Me, "Well, why don't you go have fun and play soccer?" Him, "I wahant to plaaayyyy." Ugh! I tried threats, "If you don't get up and play with your team, then I'm going to give your soccer ball to Evie because she wants to play with your team. At least she'll use your soccer ball." Him, "Noooooo."
Teeth grited, sunglasses perched high, stern mother face in place - and I get no positive response? WTH? Okay, maybe I shouldn't have threatened, but I was relieved later when the coach actually threatened her own son later when he wandered off to the playground in the middle of practice and she told him that if he didn't get back to practice she wouldn't let him watch public television for the rest of the week. (amazing what motivates kids, right?) . He came back to the field crying just like my baby.
After this, Chuck took over. He led Luke out to the field, got down on Luke's level and had a very serious talk. I have no idea what he said, but it didn't really work either. He was grudgingly back out on the field (after demanding a drink of water) and finally a ray of hope dawned on the disaster known to me as Luke v. Soccer. First, Luke got partnered with a little boy named Milton, and for the first time he wanted to kick the ball and participate. Then, he found out that there is such a thing as a goalie - someone who stands around (like Luke) and waits for the ball to come to him (like Luke). My kid is a genius! I wish I had figured this out and never had to do all that running in soccer. So, even though the Youth Soccer league doesn't play with goalies, Luke is playing goalie. The coach couldn't break his little whiney heart and tell him that he couldn't be a goalie. So, I guess when and if he gets to play, he will just stand at the goal and guard it. He can't use his hands, but let's face it, he was going to use his hands anyway because he just can't get that rule through his thick skull.
Praise the Lord, my son was actually playing with his team without an iron fist holding him there and tears running down his dejected face!
With that said, the second half was very different. There are pictures of him actually kicking the ball through the goal. The only time he didn't follow his team (after the dawning of Luke the Goalie) was when a train chugged by and blew it's horn - loudly. As you know, my child has a strong aversion to loud noises, so while all the other kids ran to the fence to watch the train pass by, my son stood there with his hands over his ears. For a moment, we thought we had a solution to him picking up the soccer ball since now his hands were fully occupied keeping out loud noises.
So, at least we have made progress, but I'm afraid this entire thing is an uphill battle. We have our first game Saturday. We'll see how bad or good it is.
Here's a picture of us after practice, just before Luke melted down in the car because he couldn't go see his friend Savannah who lives just a block away from the practice field. I let the hammer fall and we had silence all the way home.