After asking her for several seasons now, Mrs. RW has finally convinced the Gnome to play soccer. Of course as soon as she acquiesced, she immediately demanded new cleats, shin guards, a special soccer ball, and oh yeah, Dad has to be my coach. I’m actually relieved that Mrs. RW talked her out of that signing bonus, because I don’t know where we would have found the money. So for the last few weeks the Gnome has been tromping around the house in her cleats and shin guards kicking her special soccer ball into the walls, furniture, me, and our Faithful Hound Winston. The fact that Winston hasn’t ripped her special soccer ball to pieces is testimony enough to his patience.
I submitted to my background check, got my ID, attended my youth soccer coaching license clinic, and finally made my way to the coaches meeting. Once there, I had a good look at the other coaches. For the most part they were middle-aged Dads starting to sag around the middle with hopeful gleams in their eyes imagining their upcoming victories. Thank goodness I was nothing like those clowns!
Anyway, after the usual admonishment to play nice, don’t hit the kids, and remember that everyone gets a trophy, we were finally allowed to see our rosters. Being a veteran Future Generator and Soccer Coach Extraordinaire I didn’t even look at it; whichever devil children they put on my team I was confident that I’d have them whipped into shape in no time!
The trouble started when I got home. “Did the Smurf get put on your team?” Mrs. RW asked in her sweetest voice. (It’s the voice wives reserve for when they know they’ve done something evil and hope to get away with it… you know the one.)
“I’m sorry, what?”
“Yes, didn’t we tell you that the Smurf was going to play this season, too? We requested that she be on your team with the Gnome!” (I should note that Mrs. RW was positively gloating at her coup at this point.)
This weekend everyone (including the Smurf) loaded into the van to attend the Hobbit’s away game. I had the little girls bring their soccer balls so that they could play some and get excited about the start of the season next week. When I saw the Smurf carrying her ball in her hand on the field, I poked it loose and told her with a smile, “No hands!”
This 5-year-old girl who weighs something like 15 lbs cut her eyes at me and said, “Jerk.” (Remember your training… Don’t hit the kids!)
When we finally got to a practice area, I had the girls kick the ball a bit and try out some dribbling, which they seemed to take to fairly quickly. Seeing this, I thought we’d try something a bit harder and had them attempt to tap the ball back and forth between their feet. The Smurf struggled with this one (I think mostly because she’s only 5 inches taller than the ball) and when I reached down to help her with her foot placement, she jumped, kneed me in the face, and started crying because I hurt her knee. Needless to say, we stopped practicing for the day.
I can honestly say that was the first time I’ve ever been attacked by a Smurf and while she didn’t draw blood it was far more dramatic than I had anticipated. I don’t know about you, Dear Readers, but I can’t wait until the season starts tomorrow. I’m bringing a helmet.