Dad, My Childhood, Thing 2

It Always Comes Back To The Cleats

I miss my Dad.

When I was little, somehow my Dad discovered AYSO as an activity for my brother and I. Since soccer wasn’t cool yet, there was a huge shortage of knowledgeable parents and coaches. My Dad decided to coach. He knew nothing about soccer before that, but like with anything else he focused on, he became an expert.

It may shock you to know…I am not athletically inclined. AT ALL. But still, he coached me for several years. I’m thinking at least from age 5 to age 11 or so. I only have very vague memories of any of that time, probably because I was way more interested in playing in the mud than actually playing soccer.

When I was in the 8th grade, the other Catholic Junior High (which was bigger) asked my school if any of us would like to play on their soccer team. I’m certain there weren’t tryouts, as I’m certain I wouldn’t have made the team if there were. Either way, I jumped at the opportunity because I knew I’d be going to school with those kids when we all entered high school the following year. Those kids represented potential boyfriends! Which, as you may be aware, is the predominant focus of most 8th-grade girls.

Unfortunately…my Dad kinda knew enough about the sport to know it didn’t matter what type of cleats I had. So, we went to K-Mart. And we bought white cleats.


I remember often laying awake wondering if I could color them black with a sharpie. Or maybe dump them in black paint. Would that be worse than white? Obviously painted black? Or, maybe I could find someone my size to borrow cleats from. Those white cleats mortified me because everyone else had black. It wasn’t so much that they were from K-Mart, I was used to not having cool brands of anything. But since they were white? I felt like they put a spotlight on me. For reasons I didn’t want to be spotlighted.

I might have forgotten those cleats into adulthood. I’m not sure. What I do know is that my Dad never did. I don’t know if I bitched about it a lot or what, but those cleats became that token reference my Dad made when discussing parenting decisions you didn’t realize were such a big deal to your kid. He often even mentioned wishing he’d bought black cleats that day. He was never one to parent based on my own insecurities, but he liked to think that when it was important – he’d take them in consideration. But that time? He didn’t. And he often joked about wishing he had. “Like the white cleats…” would pop into conversation when he and I talked parenting and we both knew what that meant. Sometimes, as a parent, you just don’t understand why something is important to your kid. No matter how much you try.

NikkiZ starts soccer tonight. We went this weekend to buy her cleats. She wanted pink ones. Ha! I don’t shop for soccer supplies often but I assured her there would be no pink cleats to choose from.

Unfortunately, the store we went too had absolutely NO cleats in her size. I scanned the soccer department and found nothing. We went to the shoe department and after 20 minutes I found ONE box of cleats her size. I opened them up wondering what they’d look like and if I’d be able to convince her to wear them even if they were obviously boy shoes (How did I breed such a girly girl?) or if she’d even care.

They were pink.

Well, they were black with pink accents. She freaked out. I tried them on her and I probably would have gotten a size bigger if there had been one, to give her room to grow, but they fit perfectly.

I’m sure there will be many things she wishes I’d do differently as a Mom. But I feel like, somewhere in the universe, Dad was helping me avoid wishing for the same do-over he did.

31 thoughts on “It Always Comes Back To The Cleats”

  1. Good karma for you, Kim! I’m glad you found the pink cleats for her. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if next time you have to buy a pair, you find a pair with sparkles. I hope you smile each time you see her running in her pink cleats.

  2. P.S. Which photo apps do you have on your iPhone? I treated myself to several recently and have been eyeing a few others. I’m particularly fond of ToyCamera and CameraBag.

  3. I’m with Shannon – I was fine until I got to the last sentence and now my son is asking if I am okay because I’ve gotten all teary. I’m glad NikkiZ got her pink cleats!

  4. It’s a good thing my husband and son have already left this morning ’cause I’m sitting here crying, too!

  5. That was absolutely your father’s work. Looking out for his girls ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. As someone who has had the mick right royally take out of her during her own adolescence for having the wrong shoes, hair, school coat etc this post made me smile ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. What a great story. Your Daddy is still with you watching out for his little girl ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. I read daily, comment rarely. But I had to “delurk” to tell you how lovely and touching I found this story to be.

    Thank you for sharing. Warmed my heart this morning!!

  9. I’ve never thought about parenting and considering your kid’s insecurities/quirks like that before. It is true, especially as they get older, you don’t always know what motivates or freaks them out. I’ll try to be more aware. I thank you for your parenting tips and stories, especially about older kids. There is a lot of info out there on raising babies and young kids but your insights on raising a teen make me (try) to plan ahead for my now 10 year old.

  10. that was awesome! In my heart, I know that your dad helped out from up above, just as my mom does for me. I miss my mom.

  11. You made me cry too. Gosh Kim, what a way for us to start our days ๐Ÿ˜‰
    I’m glad for you, though, that you have these little reminders, even though they can be painful, that they’re still happy memories and call to mind just how much your dad loved you, and that no matter what, part of him lives on in these little moments.

  12. My 17 year old daughter plays school and club soccer and she has always had pink cleats. And she is not so much of a girlie girl these days, definitely tough. But the love of her own individual style (those darn pink cleats) has never changed and she takes great pride in being different. Now, finding pink cleats in a size 8.5 womens shoe? Sorta difficult, but worth the effort.

  13. Not to take away from this beautiful post (and this is a beautiful post – keep writing about your dad, it brings out the best in your writing), but I couldn’t go without saying that that soccer team DID infact have cuts – 1 boy and 1 girl were eliminated. Wonder who that girl was? While it was the first time I kicked a ball on a soccer field, I was still crushed, and have never since kicked a ball on a soccer field. I won’t mention the boy b/c I’m sure he took it way harder than I did. Why they cut anyone, I still haven’t figured out. I wanted, like you, to hang with the boys…and also get to know the other kids from the other middle school before starting HS. In the end, it was probably a good thing. But I can’t help thinking that if I had pink cleats, I’d probably still be playing. xo

  14. Oh, this post brought back memories! I wore Caldor cleats to play AYSO soccer and also wore their shoes to school. (Caldor was a low-end KMart.) Shoes which, in the end, made me want to crawl under a rock. I’ll never forget the teasing in junior high when the other girls identified the shoes as being from Caldor and laughing at me. I won’t make that mistake with my kids.

    Good luck in soccer, NikkiZ! Do your best and have fun!

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