Monday, June 4, 2007

Super Freaky

The middle boy had a soccer tournament this Saturday. Three games in one day, which is actually better than the tournaments that require numerous cross-town travel spread over an entire weekend. He's on a good team, playing at a pretty competitive level, and that can lead to a lot of driving.

His team had won this particular tournament last year, they're better now, and it was with high hopes that they started the first game. That was the problem. This group is notorious (at least among its parents and coaches) for overconfidence. The kids are older now, though, and there seem to be fewer of the emotional rollercoasters that haunted us in the past.

The first game went relatively well, ending in a 3-1 victory for our guys. The team walked off the field, happy. Perhaps strutting is a better word for it.

We're doomed, I thought.

And we were. The second game started soon after lunch. Our team was awarded two penalty kicks within the first few minutes and missed them both. Then the other team scored when our goalie mistakenly thought offsides had been called and didn't go after the ball. Although we were clearly the more talented team, we never really got back in the game after that and we lost, 1-0.

I'm sure it will come as a surprise that I have a hyper-competitive child on my hands. He was scowling as he walked across the field and he shook my hand off his shoulder as we sat down to wait for his last game to begin. Finally he snarled, "The officiating in that game was horrible."

"It wasn't that bad," I replied.

"You don't know anything. It was terrible."

I looked at him. "You know how you guys can win games like that?"

"How?" he asked.

"Score more goals."

"Shut up," he said.

I gave him a big hug, just to antagonize him, and wandered over to the rest of the parents, where we idled away the time making fun of one dad and his Blackberry. The sky was darkening and he was scouring the internet for forecasts until a mother suggested that it might be easier to just look up at the clouds. That prompted him to start offering unsolicited information about wind shear to a parent who was flying to Europe the next morning. It's amazing how much data on plane crashes can be crammed into five minutes.

The third game eventually began. Our team scored two quick goals, which seemed to bring them out of their funk. Just as half-time began, there was a tremendous clap of thunder and the rain began to fall.

As I've learned, much to my regret, soccer games get played in the rain. They don't get played in thunderstorms, however, and the referee called a 30-minute delay to see if the weather would clear.

Normal people would take the opportunity to sit in their nice dry cars. We, on the other hand, chose to huddle under umbrellas and watch our kids explore the woods behind the field. Woods that consisted of scrub trees and poison ivy. Probably ticks and snakes too.

Keep in mind that the team's uniform for the day was all white. The jersey was white, the shorts were white, the socks were white. That is, they were white until the boys started daring each other to walk across the log straddling a mud pit. By the time the adults realized what was happening there didn't seem much point in trying to stop it.

Meanwhile, my kid was poking around in some nearby bushes. Now, this group is a little different than my normal crowds. They seem nice enough for the most part, and a couple of my son's best friends are on the team, and I like their parents quite a bit, but there's also a very religious contingent. They don't preach, and they've never felt obligated to discuss my impending damnation, at least to my face. Still, they'll occasionally join hands in prayer at what strike me as unusual times, although at least they have the decency to avoid praying over soccer games. In any event, I try to clean up my act a little when I'm around them.

And there was my kid kicking at a bush when a squirrel ran out. "Holy freaking crap!" he shouts.

Every head turns toward him and then toward me.

"Hey, watch the language," I blurt in my best imitation of a good father.

"What?" asks the boy.

"Watch your language," I repeat.

He stares at me blankly and says, "I just said 'freaking'."

Super. He doesn't even know what the problem is. I pull him aside.

"You can't talk like that."

"What did I say?" he asks.

"You can't say 'freaking' in front of all these people."

"You say the real f-word all the time," he says.

"Only when I'm mad," I reply.

"You must be mad a lot," he says. Like this is news.

"I'm getting mad now," I say. "Just don't say 'freaking' anymore."

"Alright, alright," he says. "Don't be a spaz."

He goes back to his friends and I return to the parent clot, my sidebar with the kid apparently having reassured the others that I'm not completely hopeless. Little do they know.

The rain kept coming down, but more softly now, and as we waited for the referees to restart the match, the team began an informal game based on penalty kicks, headers, two goalies, four balls, and a lot of tackling. Soaking wet, streaked with mud, and just kicking around a soccer ball, for once without an adult commenting, instructing, or criticizing.

Finally the rain stopped and the kids drifted back into their normal positions, finishing up with three more goals. A good showing, but not good enough to pull out a first-place finish. No shiny things this weekend.

On the way home, I asked my son, "What was your favorite part of the day?"

"Playing tackle in the rain," he said, the loss forgotten now and unimportant. "That was freaking cool."


Anonymous said...

"...scrub trees and poison ivy. Probably ticks and snakes too."

Mmmmm! Sounds like the makings for a freakin' awesome Snag salad!

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

They're right, though: You're freakin hopeless, Snag. If one of them ever gets wind of this blog, you'll be drummed out of the subdivision.

Best to play offense: you should teach the Snaglets some real foul language, paint-blistering sailor-mouth type stuff, so at least the other parents learn some good new swears.

OR; teach them 3Bulls type stuff, all chundermuffin and macaroon, and NOBODY knows what they're saying.

teh l4m3 said...

One way to keep those whites whiter than white is to segregate the children. It worked up through the 1950s.

Snag said...

Sadly, my neighbors would expect no less from me than this blog. Or bug eating, for that matter.

Anonymous said...

Hey Snag, you didn't throw a rosin bag as if it were a grenade, did you?

Chuckles said...

I bet he threw a grenade like a rosin bag.

Anonymous said...

P.S. Katie freaking hates you!

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

I would guess Snag saves the grenades for fishing trips.

And flower shows.

Snag said...

When you fish with grenades, it really cuts down on the fileting you have to do.

Anonymous said...

You just open your mouth to catch the raining manna/viscera!