Two of my sons play soccer, and I am very pleased about that. It's an interesting and fast-paced sport, with many opportunties for gentleman-like behavior. I'm an enthusiastic soccer mom–a shin-guard-washing, Gatorade-mixing, uniform-bleaching, sideline-cheering soccer mom.
Except when it's cold.
One of the curious quirks of this sport is that, especially as kids get older and begin playing more competitively, it becomes essentially a year-round activity. There are off-season practices and tournaments, which means you may
have to get to watch your child play in blazing, subtropical heat, as well as frigid, arctic blasts. It's the type of information they don't tell you during Lamaze classes, or you might just back out of the whole deal.
This weekend my middle son played in an out-of-town tournament. The forecast was in the '20's, so we went prepared: my son wore numerous layers under his uniform, and we brought along mounds of cold-weather gear and blankets for the rest of us. I thought we'd be fine.
I was wrong, of course. Even though I've lived in Oklahoma for nearly seven years, I can never quite get used to the wind. It not only comes sweepin' down the plains, it also threatens to remove the top layer of your skin. It makes a sunny day in the '20's feel like Everest Base Camp.
The first match started, and we all huddled under mounds of blankets for an endless amount of time. And by "an endless amount of time" I mean "20 minutes", because that's how long it was before my daughter started complaining of the cold. There are many huge reasons I am thankful that sweet child was unexpectedly born into our family: the laughter, the songs, the pure joy and delight. And also the fact that having a preschooler buys a mom a free pass to sit in the car. "Sorry," I shrugged at the other blue-lipped moms. "Corrie is too cold." They nodded in understanding, and I think a couple of them glanced around to see if they, too, could find any shivering four year olds.
Thankfully, we had a parking spot that offered a decent view of the game. Corrie and I thawed out while we watched Stephen play on. I slipped off my shoes and propped my feet up on the dash. Outside the wind blew so fiercely that the car shook. The howling was fierce, and I closed my eyes and thought to myself that this must surely be how Ma Ingalls felt on those cold nights in the cabin on the Minnesota prairie. If, that is, Ma Ingalls' cabin had bucket seats, a dashboard, and a Leapster.
It was still a great game. My brave Hubs never once left the sidelines, even dashing over to the huddle during halftime to drape a blanket over our son's shoulders. "Wow," I thought to myself, watching him from the car. "What a great dad he is. I love that man." Clearly not enough to get out and help him, mind you, but still a good bit. When it was all over, he and Stephen headed to the car–Stephen's face glowed with the excitement of a well-played match (or maybe it was wind-burn). Either way, he climbed into the car full of enthusiasm, his body shivering from his capped head to his multi-socked toe.
"So," he said, his blue lips barely able to form words. "Let's go get some ice cream."
And we did.