Twenty-two years ago, the blonde bride refused to get out of the car. It was the first soccer practice of the year, two weeks before school started. She was new to town and knew no one. And so, there stood her mother, totally perplexed.
If the kid didn't want to play, she didn't want to play. That was fine. She didn't have to participate if she didn't want to participate. The team had yet to meet; she hadn't made a commitment. She'd be disappointing no one. Her mom could drive her home and that would be that.
Except, the kid did want to play. She just didn't want to get out of the car.
She was good at the game and she liked running around and there was the uniform and the cheering and it was all to no avail. On the field side of the car, looking down on the gathering eight year olds, her mom was out of ideas. She sighed.
It was a loud sigh, or maybe I just happened to look up, but we were friends from the moment our eyes met. She shrugged her shoulders, I trotted up the hill to ask if I could help, and she pointed inside her car. There was the problem, dressed and ready, but firmly planted. Unmoving and unhappy, she was having no more of me than her mother ... but I had a plan.
Back down the hill, I, the Team Mom, beckoned the girls into a circle and explained the situation. A team mate was having trouble summoning up the courage to meet them. She was new, she was anxious, and they could help. I barely finished the facts, hadn't gotten further than "Why don't you all...." when they took off up the hill and surrounded her car.
They flung open the doors and pushed and pulled her, laughing and tugging and leaving her no choice. She was one of them, and they were delighted to point it out to her.
Our left-footed striker shared travel and teams and games with Little Cuter from then until they graduated from high school. Her mother and I forged a friendship that's more like a sisterhood; with busy husbands, we were always the other's Person In Case of Emergency. We camped together and shared Thanksgiving cranberry relish and watched the girls marry and prosper.
It all began with soccer.
And so, when Little Cuter sent me this picture I forwarded it immediately.
There's my girl, reassuring her daughter that it's okay to be thoughtful before rushing off into a new activity.
I can hear her saying that those were certainly new kids and teachers, but they looked like they were having a lot of fun.
The feet are ready, the body is ready, but the hands are still holding on. She's curious. She wants to play. She's good at the game (well, okay, at kicking and running) and there is that great uniform and Mommy and Daddy will clap for her.
SIR captured the tug of emotions perfectly.
I was there, twenty-two years ago.