I was at Marley's soccer practice, and I was already feeling like sort of a douchebag.
I signed her up for the Coronado Soccer League at four-years-old, thinking it would be pretty awesome to get her on a team sport. The kids look soooo darn cute in their little soccer outfits. And how awesome would the GAMES be? Four-year-olds playing eachother? Hilarious! I envisioned quaint team practices with the mommies trading parenting secrets, and Saturday mornings drinking Bailey's and coffee out of plastic cups while our delightful offspring scored goals in matching hair ribbons.
On the first day of practice, I showed up 30 minutes early with both girls in the Double-Bob to find no less than 8 different groups of 4-to-5-year olds practicing soccer at Tidelands Park. I felt like a big ass trying to find her group. "Are you with the Coronado Soccer League?" I'd ask. "Yes, I think all of us are." "Oh....I'm trying to find our group...it starts at 4:30?" "Oh, well, that's 30 minutes away...they probably aren't here yet!"
Finally I did find her group, and I was a little bewildered to find that there were only 3 other girls on the team, and one of the girls was like a 3-foot-tall-David Beckham with pigtails. These kids knew how to PASS THE BALL. They knew how to TRAP THE BALL. They knew how to STEAL THE BALL from other kids and SCORE A GOAL.These kids were 4 and 5 years old. What the fuck?
Now Marley's played soccer before, with Little Rascalz, which is a different program entirely. They talk about taking the "shark food" (soccer balls) and bringing it to the "shark cave" (the goal.) Now I felt like a child abuser, throwing her in the midst of such talent and skill, such sportsmanship and synergy, such...well, real SOCCER.
To be fair, Marley did great. She stepped her game, kicked the ball, and had fun with the other kids. I, on the otherhand, was a little bit of a mess--chasing after 15-month-old Holland as she trolled from stroller to stroller, digging around for snacks like a drug dealer looking for drugs--and on some occasions scoring (I found her with half a granola bar in her mouth and a bag of Cheetos when my back was turned.) But Marley was amazing.
Until today. Our third practice. We were two minutes late. Marley does NOT like to be late. I know this, and always get to everything early. But today, I couldn't get organized, couldn't get the snacks packed fast enough, the water bottles full enough, or the diapers and wipes in the stroller quickly enough. And we were late.
Marley arrived on the scene and the kids were already kicking the ball around. Marley was NOT PLEASED.
"Mommy, my finger hurts, I can't play soccer today," she said.
"Marley, you can totally play soccer, you played at the playground all morning.Your finger is fine," I said.
"I have a hang nail!" she protested.
"Marley, you play soccer with your feet, not with your hands. Go play!"
After some reluctance, Marley reported for practice out on the field. By the grace of God, they started with a game of "Duck Duck Goose," her favorite.
Finally some kid picked Marley and she raced after them until....SMACK! She fell on the ground.
"WAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!" She screamed and ran torwards me.
"It's OK Honey," I said, giving her a big hug and comforting her.
"WAHHHHHHH!!!" screamed Marley. Now everyone was staring at us. No matter, I told myself. She's only four, shit happens.
"OK Marley, it's time to go back out," I said.
"NOOO!! My head hurts! My belly hurts! My eye hurts!!!!" she screamed.
"Marley, you are fine, let's go play again," I said, walking her back to the field.
"NOOOOOOO!!!!! AGGHHHHHHH!!!!!!" She yelled.
"This is NOT OK," said my mom who had joined us for practice. "She is FINE, and she's making a huge scene! This is just EMBARASSING."
""Come on Marley, time to get back out," I said.
"WAAAAHHHHHHHH MY HEAD MY EYE MY BELLY!!!!" Screamed Marley.
The coach came over. "Come on back, Marley,. we're going to play a new game! It's super fun, come and play!" he said.
"WAAAAAAAAAA NOOOOO!" Screamed Marley. By now parents from other soccer practices are watching us from across the field.
"You HAVE TO MAKE HER GO, "said my mom. "She has to learn the world does not revolve around her!"
"I KNOW!" I hissed. "Marley, I know you fell, but you are OK. You are going back onto the field RIGHT NOW!"
"NOOOOO!!!!" screamed Marley.
I grab Marleys hand and drag her out to the field kicking and screaming the whole way. She runs back after me.
That's it! It was time to pull out the big guns.
"If you don't go, you don't get to play MarioKart ALL DAY TOMORROW. Do you hear me? NO MARIOKART!"
Marley turned and looked at me. "Mommy, I don't CARE about MarioKart. And I don't CARE if you take away ice cream either. No matter what you do or what you take away, I'M NOT PLAYING SOCCER TODAY."
"Fine," I said. This is IT! "I'm putting Holland in the stroller and we're LEAVING YOU HERE BY YOURSELF." I pick up Holland (who promptly starts screaming because I've removed her from a bag of soccer balls she was trying to chew on.) I start walking away with Holland in the double stroller.
"NOOOO MAMAMA!!!!!" Marley starts screaming a shrill scream and runs after me, dragging onto the stroller and throwing her body around like a possesed demon. Ok clearly this approach was not working.
"Marley, you are acting like a BIG BABY and you are EMBARASSING THE FAMILY," says my mom. "GET OUT THERE NOW." And my mom drags Marley out to the field.
"Oh my gosh," I mutter to the moms sitting next to me. "This is crazy. What do you do when your kid does this?"
"It's hard," one mom answers. "Did you threaten to take away something she loves?"
"Yes," I sighed.
"Did you threaten to leave?"
"Yes," I confirmed.
"Well, you just have to do what your mom did...walk her out there and make her stay."
"Yeah, but there is NO WAY she is staying out there," I said. "Watch, Marley is going to come running back any second. She is so strong-willed."
I looked up, and saw my mom walking back.
And guess what? Marley stayed. In two minutes she's out kicking the ball around again, smiling and playing, not a care in the world.
"I'm proud of you!" one of the mom's said to my mom.
"Thanks," said my mom. "Now Christine, you just have to be more firm with her! I told her she had to stay, and she stayed!"
And now I'm feeling like a huge MEGA DOUCHE-BAG. I can't control my own children and have to rely on my mom, who is a bonafide senior citizen, to take charge. I want to curl up in a ball and cry. I SUCK!!!
"Mom,"I say. "I could do that, but I'm always worried about what Holland's getting into, I have to watch her too you know. Watching two kids is hard!" I say, trying to salvage some self respect.
Wait, where IS Holland? I finally find her, she's climbed into someone else's stroller and is eating cheerios. Just then the stroller tips over with Holland inside.
"WAAAHHHHH!" She screams.
All I can think about is going home and drinking wine. I'M SUCH A LOSER!!!!
Anyone else have a strong-willed child who defies your every effort to take charge, and makes a huge ass out of you in public? Any advice, please?