I planned my day around going to the CDC early today to watch Gabriel play soccer. It's a completely informal pickup game, there's no way to identify who's on which team, and there's no equipment other than the ball and two markers for the "goal." It's organized by one guy who likes to coach, and who's assigned to 1-3 graders, and he seems to play for both teams to facilitate the game. So it's a far cry from league games. This guy does this every day, and it's become a big hit among the kids.
I should say, the boys, because not a single girl even watched longingly from the sidelines -- this was strictly boy territory.
I arrived just as they started and watched for about half an hour. The "game" was pretty full at first, but about half the boys dropped out after about 10 minutes, leaving only the die-hards, including Gabriel. Some of the boys clearly play often and have developed ball-handling skills.
I couldn't believe how much fun this was to watch, marvelling at my son's determination and enthusiasm and intensity.
Gabriel scolds Parth for touching the ball with his hands. A rule broken! Not in my world!
In this particular soccer world, Goalie is a coveted position, perhaps because that's where most of the action occurs. I overheard several boys asking repeatedly if they could be goalie. When it was Gabriel's turn for goalie, he was irritated by a much bigger classmate horning in on his goalie-spot, and he kept scolding the kid and shoving the kid out of his way as needed.
The goalie gets to kick the ball back into the field. This isn't Gabriel's forte.
Gabriel puts his all into a block.
I had a great time watching and was so glad to see how much fun Gabriel was having too. He'd noticed me when I arrived, but all he did was shoot a puzzled glance my way, then got right back into the game, and didn't look at me again until it was over. The famous focus.
After picking up the other two, I took the trio home, gave them dinner, and then we went right back to the same place for an Ice Cream Social at Gabriel's school.
Katrina wasted no time taking off into the open field. So much for meeting other PTA parents.
I went back to the tables to check on the boys, and when I turned back around, she'd found a pickup game!
It was cute at first, but this boy thought it was funny to keep the ball away from her and make her chase after him. I'm not at all protective about playground interactions, but really, this was a 3rd-grader taunting a toddler, and I pulled her out of it. She took it very well though, never crying or screaming, just doggedly going after the little brat.
No matter, she found her own ball anyway. "I fow'da PEEK BOW!!" (I found a pink ball!)
Katrina's brothers unwittingly avenged her anyway, by snagging the same flat ball and getting into their own pickup game.
Then when I turned back to Katrina, once again, she was playing with balls, this time with a Dad and his 21-month-old.
The other girl was one of those nice little girls who shares and tries to cooperate and play together. She offered Katrina the ball several times, trying to draw her into a game, but all Katrina did was grab the ball and take it away, and then tried to keep both balls in her stubby little arms.
The other girl didn't know what to make of this. After it was clear Katrina was only going to be possessive, I started to get self-conscious that maybe the Dad expected me to do something about my grabby little girl. And I will someday, but they're too young now. I don't like to chant "share, now, share!"; it's futile.
I had to smile to myself though. I'd admired a similar personality on the soccer field just a few hours ago.
Katrina did not approve of my attempts to round everyone up to go home, and it took some doing. Without the stroller, I don't know how I'd have done it, since the boys kept scattering too.
You know, being a soccer mom might not be so bad!