Outdoor chairs? Bug spray?
Water? Sunscreen? Snacks for everyone?
Check, check and check.
I’m officially a “soccer grandma.”
I have three grandkids, 8, 10 and 12. All of them are playing soccer. Two are on travel soccer teams so someone is at soccer practice every day of the week. The games are on Saturdays and Sundays. I went to four soccer games one weekend.
I even bought a fold-up wagon with cup holders to schlep all my stuff out to the field. Something always tumbles out.
I’m constantly telling friends, “Sorry, I can’t. My grandson has soccer.” I’m not alone. Someone put those words on a T-shirt.
There’s also T-shirts that say, “Loud Proud Soccer Grandma” and “I’m not yelling, this is just my soccer Grandma voice.”
I never got to be a soccer mom. My daughter played softball. Unfortunately, I was a single parent who worked full time, so I missed most of her sports life. That’s why I’m not missing a moment being a soccer grandma.
I’m learning I have a lot to learn.
At the first games, I found myself yelling advice to the grandkids. Me, who never played soccer. I found myself cheering for my grandchild, no one else. I found myself yelling for their teammates to run, score, pass. And I groaned when they missed a goal.
My daughter gently pointed out that I was to sit quietly and enjoy watching all of the kids play.
That’s when I looked around at the other parents. Most were well behaved, but some were yelling advice from the sidelines or criticizing the refs, the goalie, the other team.
That’s when it hit me. Our children are listening. They’re watching.
There’s a bigger game at stake.
The game of life.
I went back and reread “The Conscious Parent” by Shefali Tsabary. I want to be a fully conscious grandparent. Her book offers tips on how to celebrate who your children are, not how they perform at a task or sport.
Her advice? Don’t get caught up in your agenda or try to live through them and fulfill your longing to win or be good at something. You don’t need to constantly demonstrate how much you know about something.
Instead of saying, “If I were you …” or “If you ask me …” or “I would do it this way …” Say things like, “I appreciate you. I’m so happy to be here with you. I admire the way you …”
Then I went online and read articles on how to be a better soccer supporter. Here’s the best advice I learned:
Don’t yell advice to your soccer player. Let the coaches coach. No yelling, “Pass. Shoot it. Run up. Get the ball.” Too many players turn to follow their parent’s voice instead of their coach’s, the person who actually has a game plan for the whole team, not just your player.
Know the game. Learn the rules and the various positions on the field.
Leave the refs alone. Some of them look like they’re 16. They’re doing it for the love of the game, not to increase their 401(k).
Smile. When your child or grandchildren does look at you, they should see you happy, not angry or frustrated. Let them see you having fun.
Enjoy watching them play. They can run and kick. Some kids can’t. You’re alive to see it. Some parents and grandparents aren’t.
Get off your phone. Give them your full attention. Nothing on Facebook or Twitter or TikTok is more important than your child.
Cheer for the whole team, not just your player. Learn the names of the other kids on their team. When in doubt, cheer, “Go team. Great teamwork.”
Show them how to lose well. Don’t let them hear you criticize the ref or blame anyone else. Losing is part of life. It’s not life and death. Losing is neutral. You win some, you lose some. You play for the love of the game.
Thank the coach and the ref for their time. Be a role model of gratitude.
Instead of going over what your player did right or wrong, ask, “Did you have fun today?”
Ask, “What did you learn?” You learn more from a game you lose than from a game you win.
Praise your kids or grandkids for giving it their best, for running hard, for taking risks.
Thank them for showing up, and hopefully, for helping you schlep all that stuff back to your car.