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.