In which she fights the urge to wrap her boys in bubble wrap

by DaniGirl on June 18, 2015 · 13 comments

in Mothering without a licence

Help me navigate this one, oh wise and experienced bloggy peeps. I’m trying to be free-range relaxed, but my inner helicopter parent is screeching for control.

As I’ve mentioned, we’ve signed Lucas up for soccer. He’s loving it and to my great surprise, so am I – so much so that I regret not caving in to Simon’s requests back in the day. Because this is Lucas’s first year, however, and because he is a child of Beloved and me, well – let’s just say that he’s no David Beckham. He’s getting pretty good at actually paying attention to where the ball and game play are, but there are kids on his team who have two or three years of experience already, and he’s no match for them with his extensive three weeks of drills behind him.

Soccer star

So here’s the thing. This is the first year the teams in this league have a goalie, and they take turns rotating playing goal. (Do you call it a goalie in soccer? Or do you play goal? I am so clueless. Can we talk baseball instead, because I can absolutely wax poetic about the infield fly rule and other baseball arcana. Soccer – not so much. Before I dredged the David Beckham reference out of my subconscious, the only soccer player I could come up with is Pélé.) The coach has asked them if they want to play goal and apparently every kid has said yes, so he made up a schedule and circulated it to the parents, saying “here’s the night your boy will play goal, please let me know if you or he decide that he doesn’t want to play goal.”

Ugh. I don’t particularly want Lucas to want to be the goalie. I don’t want him to play goal partly because even at seven and eight years old, those kids kick hard, and I’m not sure Lucas is ready for that. Every game, there’s at least one kid in tears over an injury of some sort. I can’t help myself – I just don’t want him to potentially get hurt.

Moreso, though, and I feel great shame in having so little faith in him, but I don’t want him to lose his love for the game if he gets trounced in goal. I absolutely don’t care about whether his team wins or loses, and I think losing is an important lesson. They don’t actually keep score at this level, but every kid knows whether they’re winning or losing. I just don’t think he has the focus or experience to even see when the play is coming toward him, let alone the game skills to know how to block the goal. You can shake off a ball to the face or a hard but misplaced kick – but being the kid that let in eleventy goals takes longer to heal.

And so there’s my struggle. I don’t want him to be hurt, physically or emotionally, and I personally don’t think he’s ready to take on the responsibility of goal keeping. But I don’t want to be a bubble-wrap mom either. Lessons are learned best when they hurt. A little bit, anyway. I don’t want him to play goal, but I don’t want to be the only mom who says ‘I don’t want him to play goal.’ And I don’t particularly relish either the conversation where I explain to Lucas why I don’t want him to play goal OR the sleepless night before and endless hour of anxiety the day he actually does play goal.

Ugh. What do you think, bloggy peeps? Any of you with more experiences as soccer moms and dads care to offer any insight?

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Sarah McCormack June 18, 2015 at 7:52 am

it’s tough being a “goalie Mom”….. but easier if you have a group of supportive parents who aren’t yelling etc…

I say let him play goalie. he will be fine, physically. let’s be honest, the kids who kick really hard are the shots he probably won’t get near anyhow! usually, if a kid gets scored on a few times, and it’s starting to be awkward, the coach will rotate another player in.

I totally understand as my younger son, who isn’t super athletic, played soccer for 3 years and a few times played goalie. I think I watched those moments between my fingers, much more nervous than him. Most likely, he knows it’s a game & won’t be bothered. My son wasn’t. the key is to have a supportive team, coach, and especially PARENTS watching on the sideline!!

2 Kev June 18, 2015 at 8:10 am

Agree with Sarah, 100%. I will continue to say this, and would ask that you don’t take it personally, but it’s not about you. Team sports are about being a team. The goalie is the last line of defense, but there are a bunch of other kids on the field whose job is to keep it away. Everyone contributes. Full stop. The overwhelming majority of coaches know this, and a surprising number of kids do as well.

If Lucas wants to play goalie, let him. See the “Tim Hortons” logos on the shirts? Those are there because the league Lucas is in is all about development of the skills you’re worried he doesn’t have. It’s about discovery, learning, development, and fun. I sound preachy, but I’m not trying to be – goalie is something everyone should try.

Nothing is on the line for this. If Lucas is up for it, don’t get in the way. His teammates and coaches will have his back. The parents should, too.

3 cinnamon gurl June 18, 2015 at 8:18 am

My kids don’t play organized league soccer, but there’s a weekly, multi-age, pick-up game that Eldest has been very committed to for years. He loves playing goal and it’s never occurred to me to worry about him, perhaps mostly because he’s by nature very cautious. It also never occurred to me to worry about his skill level and I see him improving… who knows if he’ll ever be good, but he loves it, and that’s what matters, I think… I think as a society we would really benefit from encouraging people and kids to do things they may not be particularly good or innately talented at, as long as they like it.

I think this is an opportunity for Lucas to build the skills and experience you’re concerned he doesn’t have. It’s a chance to learn resilience, because you’ll be there to help him through the emotionally hard parts if they arise and the coach and team mates will help him improve physically… but as I said, I’m not familiar with league sports, so take this with a grain of salt. 🙂

4 Jody June 18, 2015 at 8:19 am

Short version: if he said he wanted to try, let him try. For one thing, even the kids with more experience aren’t going to be much (any) better in goal than a novice. For another, unless the kids on your league are of an entirely different caliber than the ones I saw in my kids’ leagues, goalies are not typically the most injured players. (Bluntly, their timing and coordination aren’t good enough for them to be having a lot of head-to-head battles with the strikers.)

It IS incredibly stressful to be a goalie mom (Elba has played it on and off since she first started the game, and may be playing the position exclusively going forward) but unless you have the meanest sideline parents ever (in which case, switch leagues), no one is going to be surprised or upset if Lucas lets in goals at this age. And, to be maybe-too-blunt, if one bad day in goal leads him to abandon the game, maybe soccer isn’t his thing after all.

(If he plays goalie and is upset, you could remind him that the goalie is part of a team, that scores happen when the defense also loses control of play, and that it’s OK to decide that you’re not a good fit for a particular position.)

5 Jody June 18, 2015 at 8:38 am

(You are super over-reacting. Maybe Lucas will love the position. Maybe playing there will focus his attention. Don’t let the bogeyman dictate your choices. The worst case scenario is so much less awful than you’ve worked yourself up to imagining. Get your sleep! It’s a league where they don’t keep official score! I promise you, it will not be what you’re imagining.)

6 Windex June 18, 2015 at 8:39 am

For sure he should play – 1) What everyone else so far has said and 2) if you say no he is going to start questioning himself. Kids don’t care at this age if they suck because everyone else is pretty much at the same level. They will never know if they like it until they try it and when he no longer does he will tell you!

7 DaniGirl June 18, 2015 at 8:52 am

OMG this is absolutely why I should listen to the bloggy peeps more than I listen to the voices in my head. Okay, okay, I will project my neuroses on somebody else for a while… 😉

8 smothermother June 18, 2015 at 8:53 am

Pretty much on point to everything that everyone has already said.

This past weekend was the jellybean’s first games (he just joined soccer this year as well). Most of the boys took turns in nets including him. He let in one goal (more because the other team didn’t have that many chances for him to stop, than his ability). I didn’t think it would be a good idea for him to play keeper (that’s what a goalie is called in soccer :)) because he is so uber sensitive and hard on himself, I thought it would just destroy him if a goal got past (like another kid on his team earlier on in the day). But he was fine. I should post the pictures of him in nets, half of the time he wasn’t even paying attention to the game. That’s what got my goat. Either you’re in to play or you’re not. But I am trying desperately not to force my competitive nature on him. I should just be happy that he is out and playing and running around, even if he isn’t really trying to kick the ball or do anything soccer like (really). He is part of a team and having fun. Everything else should just be gravy. Right?

9 Steve June 18, 2015 at 8:55 am

So. Let’s begin with goalies are for hockey, he is or will be playing “Keeper”.
Now, here is the coaches perspective. At this young age it is important the players rotate through all of the positions, including keeper. It’s more than just a fairness thing, it gives him the ability to see the game from a different perspective as it unfolds in front of him. He can see what the defenders are doing, and what they are supposed to be doing. Ditto for the centre-mid, wingers and striker. He may or may not get hurt but he could just as easily twist an ankle playing striker.

As for letting in goals, that is bound to happen. Even the best keepers in the world let in goals. A propoer coach will prepare him as best as possible and then will have realistic expectations of what to expect. I wouldn’t sweat it and if he has a fragile ego, which many do at this age, again the coach should know and recognize this and use a LOT of positive reinforcement.

Can you tell I coach 9 year-old girls? LOL I’ve been doing this for 6 or 7 years now and go through this same angst with parents and players all the time. HE’LL BE FINE!!!!

10 DaniGirl June 18, 2015 at 3:43 pm

You guys are seriously awesome. I can’t believe there’s not one of you who thought I should listen to my inner helicopter parent! 😉

11 Fran Donders June 19, 2015 at 11:12 am

I still remember when Sean played soccer in his early years – everyone was in his half of the field and the goalie of the opposite team was swinging on the bars – that’s what it’s all about at his age

12 Joanna @ kids activities dubai August 5, 2015 at 5:54 am

I think I might need help too! I have two daughters, and a little boy just came this year. It’s different if you have girls, believe me.

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