I’ve never played a game of real soccer in my life. I was a band nerd. I was a soccer mom.
I do however know how to teach, and I sure know how to work with little kids. I was prepared for bunch ball. I was prepared for reminders to put the ball down and not to use your hands. I was prepared for the tripping and falling that comes with not having total control of your body yet. I was prepared for the tears for no apparent reason. I was afraid I would be in over my head as a “coach”. But, I was asked and honestly nobody else wanted to do it. I was second guessing myself. I was nervous. I had never coached before and I would be the one essentially herding a group of very vocal cats…with tiny little soccer balls.
It seems so simple, just coach the team of the weeist of wee ones. Yes, I made up a new word, you’re welcome. I googled the rules for soccer and realized I already knew enough. I knew enough. This was something I could do, this was not complicated. This was just basic skills that even I could demonstrate. I remembered the joy in watching my own wee ones so many years ago. I decided to just do it, to coach wee little soccer.
There is joy in the littlest of things, and we as grown up jerks forget that all the time. I think we secretly remember, but we ignore our inner little that found love everywhere. We forget how cool a fire truck really is, so we have to watch it. We forget that cheese and crackers are in fact awesome when shared. We forget that butterflies landing on a blade of grass near you is awesome so we should all see it. We don’t allow ourselves to tell people it’s cool that we have the same shoes and so that means we are friends.
Some of us grown ups won’t try something new because it’s scary. What would you do if you weren’t afraid? We intentionally ignore that almost none of us are good at something the first time we try it. We forget that we practice to get better. We forget it is ok to fail, and that sometimes the best course of action when we do is to laugh it off and try again. We forget to help someone up when they need a hand. We forget to celebrate every time we get a goal. We forget so many little lessons.
Until we are reminded. I was reminded.
Little life lessons from the wee ones I was supposed to be coaching.
I am honored by the littles with lessons that carry me forward.
We would have soccer practice twice a week. I know how to make lesson plans, I pulled on my knowledge of child development and basic soccer knowledge and knew to make it fun. Red light green light, the classic childhood games and a few crazy things to try. I say “dead lizards” and we all fall down. From the sidelines it must look and seem pretty ridiculous. There’s a reason for everything even if you just don’t know why. Being a “dead lizard” is really falling and getting up again because learning to fall is important. Now, when they inevitably trip or crash into each other and fall down, I see them get up again and carry on like it is no big deal. We all fall down.
I was reminded.
We would sit down in a circle, with their adorably wee cleats and mine all touching in a circle. We squeeze the ball with our feet, lift our legs over our heads and drop the ball…in our face. It is secretly practice for when the ball comes at you so you don’t duck, or panic when it comes at you unexpectedly. Sometimes you just take a ball to the face. But we do it together and now, they laugh and they learn to shrug it off and keep going.
I was reminded.
When they say something is too hard, I have to be the one to remind them that it gets easier and that’s why we practice. I remind them that they are so much better, stronger, faster, smarter than the last time they tried. Do you remember when that was hard for you? Look at you go now! I too am getting better when I say those words to them.
I was reminded.
As we laid back in our circle with our hands outstretched I hear a tiny voice…we made a sunshine!! We made a sunshine and my heart just melted.
Next practice, a different tiny voice…Um Hey Coach? I want to make a sunshine.
The choir of the littles that then chime in with YAY lets make a sunshine. So we do. We sit down, we put our feet together and we make a sunshine, because sunshine makes you happy and a little needed a little bit of happiness that we could all easily do. We make sunshine a part of practice now. We all need sunshine, we can make it for each other.
I was reminded.
I think my own internal wee little from years ago me hears big me being a positive force. I think in so many ways I am coaching my self. Or maybe, just maybe now after all these years I am finally coachable. I hear my own words to be true. I’m even getting better at soccer. Who knew?
Don’t say something to yourself you wouldn’t say to your best friend, or kiddo. Remember that the voice in your head is the one you will hear the most for the rest of your life. Practice that voice. Coach that voice to be positive and kind. Remember that we all fall down and sometimes you get hit in the face with a ball, but it is going to be ok. Shrug it off and keep going. Remember that with practice we get better, and getting better is what it is really all about. Tell yourself out loud that you are awesome and that you did a good job. Pause and appreciate when something is awesome. Say out loud when you see something cool. Celebrate every single time you reach a goal like it’s the greatest thing ever, because it is. Be friends with someone who has the same shoes as you. Anyone else have Glitter Doc Martens? That means we are friends.
Let’s go make a sunshine.