Wednesday, October 30, 2013


Winning is an odd thing. I know we are not supposed to take too much notice of it, and we are meant to tell our kids that winning does not matter as long as they tried hard/did their best/gave 110%/whatever. But our kids don’t buy this. They know when they win and when they lose, they keep track of every goal they score, even when playing each other in the yard (actually, this brings out the worst, competitive monsters in them). 
Children are naturally competitive and I don’t think this is wrong. It’s a tough world out there. As long as being competitive does not blind you to the joys and benefits of cooperation, or make you so anxious about losing that your ability to play suffers, I think it is part of us. Of course it has to be tempered with reason and not take over our lives just as most instinctive reactions do.

When I was a competitive rider I always liked a blue ribbon best but a red or a yellow was pretty sweet too. Sometimes though, I wanted that blue and nothing else would do. Sometimes I got it and sometimes I didn’t but I never lost my ability to enjoy the ride. The competition was why I was there that day but it was the riding that kept me coming back.  

I want my kids to win because it makes them feel good. Why do a competitive sport unless you are out there to win? But I want them to lose too so they learn how to handle it and that no matter how hard you try, life doesn’t always go your way. I am lucky in that my children can handle losing after the initial sting goes away. They have the love of playing the game firmly embedded in their personalities. I will celebrate with them when they win and comfort them when they lose but I will never tell them not to win or that it doesn’t matter because they would know that was a lie. 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013


Tournaments, tournaments, tournaments… My husband hates them, I actually like them. They have all the frantic preparation of horse show weekends when I was a kid: packing lots of stuff, early morning sandwich preparation (for the first day at least—things kinda fall apart on the second and—God Forbid—third day, and we are eating every meal from the snack shack at the field or Dunkin Donuts), waking sleepy kids up at 5 or 6am to get to that first game, blankets in the car, last minute backpack checks. Ok, there is less braiding of manes and tails at 3am, no soft and warm horse noses to kiss in the pre-dawn darkness, no mucking out the trailer, and I don’t get to ride or win any ribbons—but you get the idea. Actually, my role as head organizer is more important and less glamorous or fun then for horse shows but someone has to get them there.

This last tournament was probably the weirdest I have ever been to. We played in NH, which is a lovely state but less, shall we say, constrained than here in uptight North-Shore-of-Boston-Massachusetts. We played some Canadian teams from Quebec and the parents knew how to cheer their kids on! They brought a drum! And a horn but the ref put a kibosh on the horn. Every time their team had the ball, the drum started beating. At first I felt an uncomfortable feeling in my shriveled New England heart hearing so much encouragement. Games are for telling your kids they did fine and not for going nuts (except when they score a much needed goal—then you can go a little nuts). But despite the parent with the drum being right next to me, after a bit I got pretty into it. I even started chanting along to the drum beat. Inserting my team’s name in the appropriate place, and in English, not French. While the drum was initially distracting to everyone, it ended up giving the game a certain energy. I missed it when we played the next team, another New England bunch from the Cape (South-of-Boston uptight) and found myself listening for it wafting over from three fields away where my new little Canadian friends were playing.

I think I will have more to say about tournaments in future posts. Here are two lovely pictures of the NH one by very talented photographer, Mae Hogan. Please take a look at her stuff at

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Potty Training

I did not want to be the team manager but must admit, having an excuse to set up a notebook and use a pencil case (one of those little plastic ones with three holes that go right in the binder—high school in the 80’s anyone?) was appealing. So far so good, able to make it to most games, have not forgotten anything important (yet), acceptable attire fits my general “sporty bag lady” look, but sometimes…

Since I have a three year old who gets dragged to every field on the East Coast, I knew there would come a time when potty training interfered with my duties as totally-in-control-of-it-all team manager. The boys are lined up-kicking shin pads, and showing cleats (like horses at the track in the starting gate but with a little less bucking and rearing), the ref is looking around for the roster and ID cards to prove we are who we say we are, and where am I? Nowhere near my cute notebook with everything in it. No, I am at the car holding a toddler with one hand and dripping wet pants with the other. A twisting, squirming, shivering, half-naked toddler, and really, really wet pants.

I manage to get him half-dressed (which is as good as it gets most days), run back to my notebook, run across the field and sortof throw everything at the ref. Luckily, the coach is able to find and distribute the cards (pencil case!) and we are off. I think we won that day too. 

The beginning....

As I parked next to the three or fifteen late model, dark slate Honda Odyssey mini-vans identical to my own I knew I was in over my depth.

It all started a few years ago when I discovered that having four boys means they require constant exercise to keep them from chewing the house down. What better sport than soccer? Lots of running. Fun to watch (sometimes). Acceptable to my English husband. It just seemed the natural choice. Who would know it would grow into an all-consuming, finances draining, anxiety (on my part) producing obsession that will probably only get worse. To be fair, I quite enjoy watching my boys play. They look great on the field, they love it, they do well, they are outside, they are healthy and fit. Perfect.
After several years of this I have collected quite a few amusing tales and thought I should share them here.