It was an unusual way to spend an evening.
Three adults and one child, sitting in a parked car at the Glavin fields, the fading daylight coloring the horizon, the hoots and calls of children in the far distance. My husband, sitting in the driver’s seat, is peering through a small pair of binoculars towards the fields.
“Do you see her?”
“Yes. No. Yes, I can see her.”
“How is she doing?”
“She looks good.”
“And mine?” says a voice from the backseat.
“Oh yeah, I see her. Doing well, looks good.”
We are trying to identify our respective 8-year-olds, two in a mass of other second and third grade girls running drills, scrimmaging, dodging cones in the far fields. Is that grey speck mine? Or that grey speck? In the backseat is another parent who is searching for her bright pink speck.
This is our first foray in soccer player evaluation night, where our favorite little players will demonstrate skills and be evaluated accordingly. We recognize many of the other participants, other favorite players, teammates from previous years. They are all now taller, stronger, faster compared to when they first began soccer years ago, wee ones who ran away from the ball or stopped midplay to run after butterflies.
But now this soccer season feels like serious business.
The pep talk back at home went something like this: Don’t be nervous, just show what you know. Do your best but have fun, too. You will do great, we are proud of you no matter what.
At the fields, the 8-year-old's nerves soon abated. Mine, on the other hand, continued inexplicably.
Cut to us sitting in this car furtively trying to watch the action on the farthest field, picking out our particular speck. We are trying to be inconspicuous, no small feat considering my husband is looking through binoculars.
Then, out of nowhere, I heard yelling—loud yelling like it was coming from inside the car—hollering unhelpful things like, “Kick it!” and “Go!”
I realize to my own astonishment/horror that the voice is mine.
This yelling completely blew our cover and whatever hopes we had of observing soccer evaluations unnoticed by the other parents milling about the parking lot.
I sheepishly nodded and smiled at the other parents, sat on my hands and bit my tongue for the rest of the session.
Sometimes it is hard to remember that we, the parents, are not being evaluated when our children are being tested, measured, and compared.
And sometimes I am reminded that I can be the spectacle all on my own.