Volleyball and swimming are now my family’s sports of choice but I thought revisiting this soccer story from a few years past was appropriate, given the time of year.
I really like soccer.
After a dozen seasons I won't pretend I know that much about it, but I love it. I feel fairly confident in understanding that the player positioned in front of the big net is the goalie, and I definitely get the "offense" and "defense" concepts. It’s the half-back, forward and wing thing that needs more study. "Striker" and "sweeper" spark my interest, but only because they sound cool and paint a vivid picture in my mind.
My devotion to the game stems more from the people that join me as we witness the weekly drama of our children's struggle to get that multi-colored ball going in the right direction more times than the other team—yes, other soccer parents—people that are my Seasonal Friends.
Making friends in the suburbs relies heavily on having children (In fact, I've often thought that a single person seeking solitude would find the 'burbs to be the perfect hiding spot as invisibility and complete anonymity is practically guaranteed). Inevitably, there is a lot of contact with the parents of your child's friends. When children are young, the weekly "play date" offers some personal control as it’s only an hour or so. OR even better, you drop your kid off at the host house and escape for some "me" time.
It’s when seasonal sports take the place of the play date that one must be more careful. Friendships hinge on a draft selection process or lucky team placement. All those practices, tournaments, games and team parties can add up to either having a great time with people you like or praying nightly for weather cancellations and a short season. A lot of times you need these people if proximity and logistics translates into carpooling possibilities. Aloof avoidance can work against you if a transportation issue arises. It is most definitely a balancing act.
I have been extremely fortunate. For nearly six years, the core of my daughter's soccer team has played together, two seasons a year. We've watched our girls grow up together, chatted about mutual milestones and commiserated on any number of subjects. I really LIKE these mislabeled "soccer moms." New families joined the team over the years and I like them too.
Now the team is breaking up. As they should, the kids are going in different directions—trying new things. The girls will still be socializing with their friends in school and keeping in touch with constant texting and tweeting. But What About Me? I don't tweet. "LOL" doesn't replace hearing a boisterous laugh and a good "OMG" will never replace the real thing.
C.S. Lewis, on writing about friendship notes that "friends look in the same direction." Watching our kids play soccer, that was a given—all eyes on the field (Still engrossed in conversation, of course, but all eyes on the field).
I know, with these friends, no matter where our kids go, we'll be looking in the same direction off the field as well.