Rediscovering the 'Me' in 'Mumeeeeeee'

'I have always thought that there is no more fruitful source of family discontent than a housewife’s badly-cooked dinners and untidy ways'. (Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management, 1861)

November 22, 2009

Soccer Mom Me

For the past few weeks I have been taking my four-year-old to a soccer skills class at the local community centre.

Due to a combination of a badly timed promo flyer and my mistaken assumption that ‘all weather pitch’ didn’t include rain and a biting wind, we missed the first 2 weeks so it was Week 3 before he made it onto the pitch.

By now the other boys had a 2 week advantage; they knew each other, the activites and the ‘coach’. My little man, on the other hand, stood like a rabbit in the headlights, stranded in the middle of an astro-turf ocean. My noisy, enthusiastic, confident little boy had turned into a shrinking violet in front of my eyes.

In hindsight this was probably because to his young mind ‘football skills’ meant he was expecting to run about kicking a semi-deflated Mickey Mouse ball whilst dodging some sheets and towels hanging on a washing line, occasionally aiming the ball at a brick wall to score a goal and immediately be given a high-five and loads of praise and encouragement.

The activities the coach was playing with the boys bore little resemblance to the 'football' my little man knew. So there he stood. Dazed and confused.

I urged him on from the sidelines - trying not to sound like a pushy mother whilst trying to resist the urge to take us all for hot chocolate and brownies instead. So we struggled on for 15 minutes - him looking increasingly forlorn and me getting increasingly frustrated. Meanwhile, my two-year-old, who is a year too young to participate in the programme, had found a football and was very skillfully dribbling it around the pitch.

Finally, my young Beckham relaxed enough to kick the ball around a bit, just as the session ended. He was, heart-breakingly, the last to be given a vest to wear and the last to get a high-five off the coach.

We persevered and went again the following week. The same thing happened: four-year-old rabbit in headlights, two-year-old displaying ball control which Wayne Rooney would be proud of.

Week 4 pretty much the same and my increasingly desperate attempts at coaching, or rather, coaxing from the sidelines seemed to be getting us nowhere.

Undeterred, we went for the final week and hallelujah! Finally, he found his footballing mojo! He was the first into the hall, the first to grab a ball, the first to get a vest. He joined in all the games, laughed and was the first to get a high-five at the end.

The programme has been extended for another six weeks and I’m delighted. I don’t actually care whether he’s any good at the football or not. I’m just so proud of my little man for sticking with it and growing so much in confidence through this experience.

Me? I’ve learnt that being on the sidelines is a tough place to be sometimes for a mum. But I’m sure I’ll get better with practice!



  1. How wonderful. MaxiMad goes to Football tots at our local AFC. He loves it, it is ongoing and only £2 per session and it is wonderful to hear him take instructions for others. MiniMad may start in the New year, but he wasnt too keen the last time!!

  2. It's good to hear he's finally got into it, well done on perservering it's difficult to know how to manage it sometimes isn't it? My four year old started Rugby Tots recently. He's got a different approach where he tells the coach a better way of doing each exercise. Apparently he interupts the coach all the time which is embarrassing. I'm glad husband takes him and not me! It's great when they get confidence, even if it can be annoying!

  3. I have just had a similar experience! Isn't watching from the sidelines the hardest thing when you can see they are almost paralysed from being so intimidated? Luckily my little guy found his mojo too around the 5th session and now all is well.

  4. Bless him. It's hard when it's stuff you know they'll love (in fact, often already love), but they're just stymied by the unfamiliar environment. Thank goodness he didn't run off and hide under your skirt, an experience i'm all too familiar with!

  5. The sidelines are tough. I will sometimes remove myself from a situation completely just because I don't want to interfere. (And I will if I don't.)

  6. God it is so tough. Well done to the Little Man though, he will have learnt a valuable lesson.

    Adam is the same. He is shy so always sits on the side lines and refuses to join in, although I know he would love it if he did. I don't know whether the right thing is to leave him be and let him decide to do it himself or to really enourage(push?) him into it - knowing that he would really love it if he tried it. I've erred on the side of caution and let him decide when to join in, but my goodness me it is frustrating/so difficult to watch! So glad your Beckham is getting stuck in there now. Good for him (and you.) x

  7. Its good to hear he's got into it. Well done you for sticking it out. There is an award for you at my blog.

  8. glad he got into it. Sounds like my experience with Littleboy1 (also 4) and his ski lessons. Week 1 he cried all the time and wouldn't go up the cable car. Week 2 he was first in line, really enthusiastic, made huge progress..sometimes it just takes them a while.

  9. well done for sticking to it.. i had the same probelm recently with Daisy and ballet... although screaming "Come on, you can do it!" from the side of the room isn't quite as tolerated in dance class as on the football pitch!

  10. Great that you both stuck at it! Thankfully, 10 year old daughter decided she hated girls football before the winter set in, and now enjoys warmer pursuits of dancing and singing (hurrah!). Son still plays rugby twice a week at 28 - but it's now his lady that has to go and watch, not me!

  11. sweet images. my 17 month old is a dab hand (foot?) at dribbling. but i loathe the thought of having to take him to play football! too painful to watch from the sidelines, like you say, and, dare i say it, boring??

  12. Ah, fabulous.

    I remember hanging round the sidelines of the football pitch with my eldest son, through wind, rain, sun and snow. He loved it though. Still does.

    LOve RMxx

  13. Oh, I'm so pleased he got into it in the end. Your two year old sounds a bit like my little one (see ball, get ball, leg it!)

  14. Such big steps for such little people. Don't you just want to scoop them up and hug them as they struggle, and then again when they succeed. Good job HCM, you gave him the space to find his way. You deserve a pat on the back.

  15. Welcome to the wonderful world of soccer momdom!! Sounds like he is enjoying it and so are you!


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