Sunday, February 27, 2005

Soccer, or Why I'm a Bad Mom

My name is Tracie, and *sob*... my children don't play soccer!

We live in one of those towns where youth soccer is not just an activity -- it's a way of life. I suppose most suburban American cities like this anymore, but here in Davis, we don't do anything halfway. Therefore, it's pretty much expected that once a kid gets to be 5 or so years old, Mom is going to sign that kid up to play soccer. I managed to avoid this with Rachel due to her autism -- no one questioned it -- but now that William has been of soccer-playing age for two falls and I have yet to sign him up, I seem to get called on it more and more. My reasons for not signing him up are these:
1) I hate soccer.
2) My husband, who loves all sports, hates soccer.
3) Will hasn't asked to play.

I think these are good reasons. I think they are the only reasons I should need to get myself off the hook for not signing him up, and most people let it go with that, but on increasingly frequent occasions, parents I'm conversing with on the subject behave as though not signing my son up for soccer is a subtle form of child abuse, and I'm forced to trot out the rest of my reasons:
4) We don't, as a family, care to take time out of our weekends to go to soccer games and such. I don't mind weekday commitments and the occasional weekend event for Girl Scouts or Little League or something, but I just really don't want to have to plan every Saturday for several months around soccer games.
5) I played soccer as a kid and detested it, so it's not like my loathing of soccer just comes out of nowhere. I do seriously hate it, with reason.
6) Although Will is not really much of an athlete, he does play tee ball, and has asked to take gymnastics and tennis as well. If he wanted to play soccer, I'm sure he would ask to do so, but he hasn't. I have to assume that means he doesn't want to. Trust me, the kid is not shy about asking for what he wants.

Believe it or not, this still isn't enough to satisfy some of the people I've talked to. One mom completely blew off everything I had to say and kept arguing about how great it was. Well, I guess that's wonderful for her family and her kids, who I assume enjoy playing soccer. And if Will was chomping at the bit to play, I promise, I would sign him up. But for God's sake, I simply refuse to buy that there is something essential about playing soccer for any kid growing up in the suburbs, something so important that he or she is going to get out of it that the need to expend time, energy and money on it overrides things like the fact that the kid has no interest in playing and his parents don't really care to go there, all things being equal. It's a pair of cleats, a ball, and a net. I think he can learn just as much about sportsmanship and all that other good stuff playing some other sport that he's actually excited about playing.

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