The new year may be starting in a few hours, but I have already taken the first step in the grand adventure known as coaching girls soccer. Yesterday I stood in front of five six year old girls and talked with them about our goals for the season. I told them that we are winners and that losing will not be tolerated. I told them that they are not allowed to speak to the players on the other team and that I demand that they so thoroughly dominate their opponents that the parents cry.
And then I watched my daughter roll her eyes and explain to her new teammates that her daddy was only teasing. We were there to have fun. Seconds later five sets of eyes focused upon mine and asked for an explanation of my behavior. Who knew that five six year old girls already have perfected that female look of disgust. One turned to her neighbor and told her that boys are weird and crazy. She nodded in understanding and said that she has a brother.
I laughed and said that everyone knows that boys are better than girls. They giggled and told me that I was kidding and then I asked who wanted to play soccer. They all raised their hands and shouted yes. I smiled again, the ice had been broken and they were ready to start. So I had them all share their names and told them that we all have a job to do now.
First, we always have to try to have fun and second we do our best to help our teammates because helping is what makes a team strong. We stood up and ran some basic drills, or should I say we tried. These girls are six and coaching six year-olds is a bit like herding cats. Their focus was pretty good, but was interrupted by discussions about who had Hello Kitty stuff, who liked Miley Cyrus and whose mommy was the nicest.
Maybe it would be more appropriate to say that we ran our drills around these discussions. Oh, did I mention that we also talked about dogs and who had the best pet.
Somewhere along the way I found a moment to step back and just watch and what I saw was magical, at least to me. Because I saw my daughter and these girls laughing. I saw them telling stories and talking about their lives. Because for a moment I saw little girls grow into bigger girls. Now I know that might sound strange, but I saw it.
It was easy to visualize them a few years down the road, a little bit older and a little bit taller. Maybe it is because I feel like I just did this with my son for the first time. Maybe it is because he and his friends really are getting big.
I see boys that are on the verge of entering that pre-teen period. Their conversations are changing. I hear them say “hard core” and “sweet” to describe various activities. Some of this is the influence of older siblings who until recently were just elementary school kids. Now that they are off in middle school nature is taking its course and the kids are noticing.
A couple of the boys snickered because their moms are taking their older sisters shopping for bras. Not to mention changes in their older brothers. Hair is starting to sprout up in new places and while they still aren’t tall enough to look dad in the eye you can see that it won’t be long.
Out on the field the girls are working on passing the ball to each other. They are spread out in two lines gently passing the ball back and forth. Some of the aforementioned older siblings have appeared. When the girls see an older sister or brother you can see their eyes get bigger and smiles cross their face. They’re clearly excited to play in front of their siblings.
We take a quick break to grab some water and I look around again. Against the backdrop of the older siblings the girls are clearly six years-old again- but it is obvious to me that this is just a moment in time. Tonight I’ll close my eyes knowing that my baby is six and then I’ll wake up tomorrow staring at a 16 year-old.
Wonder if I’ll still be daddy then or will I be moved on to just “dad.”