For nearly twenty years now, Aunt Jackie has clung with great optimism to the dream that one of my children would someday be a soccer superstar.
Aunt Jackie loves her some good soccer.
Hannah had a short run with a team called the Wildflowers that lasted all of one season at age four.
The boys both tried their hand at a young age as well.
Three super cute kids later, we had lots of Saturday morning soccer field memories, but no tots with unquenchable passions for soccer.
So, when Emma was invited by a neighbor to play on a little team this fall, I felt I really owed it to Jackie to pursue the opportunity. After all, she is our last hope. And if Last Hope is going to be transformed to Hope Solo, we've got to get started. Plus, the idea of organized team sports at age four? Completely unnecessary and totally ridiculous, which pretty much guarantees I would be drawn to it.
But the team name was the deal clincher for me.
Emma was invited to join the FC SPARKLES. And who wouldn't want to be part of that club at any cost??
Undeniably, the most exciting aspect of being invited to join any team is the initial pilgrimage to Academy Sports to stock up on gear. We were tipped off that Academy had their Brava cleats on sale for eight bucks, which is precisely my sporting goods budget for preschoolers. My expectations were set.
But. Our grand arrival on the soccer isle led us directly to these little hotties, and I knew right away this was going to be a big problem.
You will note that they are (1) more than eight dollars, and (2) slightly less versatile than your basic black. To my relief, they also start three sizes bigger than what Emma wears. Not that such minor details slowed us down from trying them on, mind you. She took several laps around the footwear department in a desperate attempt to convince us that she really could run in a shoe that was nearly big enough for an old lady and all her children to live in.
And then we noticed that God invented pink shin guards. And that they look fantastic with the $8 black cleats. Crisis avoided.
Within minutes, we assembled a full ensemble for practice sessions. Because if you're going to play soccer in pink shin guards, you need wind shorts and a tee shirt to match. Naturally.
Now that the important details were taken care of, we could move on to the minor stuff like developing skills and technique. And choosing our number. We chose four.
Well, yesterday was the BIG DAY we'd all been waiting for.
It was the Sparkles' first game. Here's number four with her pre-game snack of graham crackers.
(She's carb loading.)
Work it, girl.
If you will, please note the crown jewel of our uniform.....the flower power soccer socks.
Because you just can't have a bad time...
....being on a field....
.....wearing these socks. Amen.
The fact that I had to beg, plead, and coerce to get her to smile for these pictures should have been a sign to me. It was HOT yesterday. Too hot for flowered socks and thick shin guards and polyester uniforms. Really, really, really hot.
And do you know what four year olds don't love to do when it's really, really hot?
Some of the kids hung in better than others. Emma kept running right off the field, drawn to her Gatorade bottle like a moth to a flame.
Her coach kept nudging her back into the game.
Yes, Aunt Jackie, it is true. I regret to inform you that these photos were indeed taken while the ball was in play. On the opposite end of the field.
She is picking grass off her socks.
It does appear that yet another of my children may have inherited my athletic prowess.
Aunt Jackie, I am so very sorry. Opening day may not have gone exactly as you hoped it would.
However, I would like to point out that a soccer field in Texas in September vaguely resembles the surface of the sun. Also, that Saturdays were originally designed for sleeping in and sipping Starbucks, so the early hour up and at 'em thing is a tad challenging.
But the season is young.
And every Saturday this fall has a whole new purpose for our family.
It's a day to SPARKLE.
Here's to our newest friends, and favorite Sparklers.
And here's to Aunt Jackie's dream. Please, Jackie, let me assure you that although she couldn't figure out which goal to run toward (or how to run at all), she totally ROCKED THE SOCK.
It's a start. :-)