I didn’t even know she was listening to me. I must have said something about leaving for the soccer game while finishing up a phone call, loading the dishwasher, filling the water bottle, and yelling at my son to put his cleats on. The next thing I know my six-year-old is walking down the stairs, her bags packed for the soccer game.
“What?” she asked when I eyed her approximately ten pound bag laden with pens, markers, stickers, books, barrettes, water bottle, change purse, four stuffed animals and a pack of sixty-four crayons.
“Are you sure you need ALL of that?” I inquire.
“What, you don’t want me to bring all of this?” she asks, hand on her hip.
“No, it’s fine. It’s just a lot of … stuff. You need to carry it all. Mommy has a lot to carry too,” I say as I decide whether I should bring the Blue Moon or Sam’s Summer Ales for the picnic following the game.
“I know, I know. I just don’t want to get bored.” Bored? I quickly calculate that in her six years of life she has attended approximately five hundred of her two older brothers’ sporting events. My daughter laughs in the face of boredom, trumping it with well-prepared.
Fifteen minutes later, we arrive at the soccer field. My chair tugs at my shirt, and my cooler drags on the ground as I eye my spot for the game. I don’t recognize the first few people; they must be from the other team. I see a few familiar faces and finally drop my stuff on the ground.
My daughter unfolds her tot-sized chair and proceeds to unpack her goods. She inventories each item, laying it precisely on her blanket, which somehow made it to the game too.
“Wow, she’s well-prepared,” says one of the dads who is standing, no chair in sight.
“Shhhh,” I hear from another parent, his index finger next to his lips as he approaches me. Tim hands me the sheet of paper titled Silent Sunday. I want to shriek and hug him. I want to do the dance that Steve Martin does in the movie Parenthood when his son makes THE catch in the baseball game.
For those of you who don’t spend your weekends running from soccer game to baseball game to yet another soccer game 40 miles the other way, let me explain. Silent Sunday is a day when the spectators are asked, basically, to shut their pie holes. Sort of. Spectators are asked to refrain from talking, cheering, chanting, shouting like lunatics, cussing at the refs for sudden loss of eyesight, scoffing at their children (or worse, YOUR children), jumping up and down in response to a questionable call, and of course, spitting.
Like Yom Kippur and Easter are to Jews and Christians, respectively, Shut Your Pie Hole Sunday is the holiest day of the sport’s year.
What greater sacrifice is there than to give up talking during a nine-year-old’s soccer game? Yep, that nine-year-old that someday will be an Olympic athlete, following his record-breaking years in high school and college. Yeah, sure.
Relaxing in my plush $7.99 t-ball chair, I hear them talking. “Over here,” Number 23 yells, as he opens himself up to receive a ball. How pleasant to hear the voice of my son, his friends, even his opponents. How much sweeter their little voices are than the voice of the forty-year-old guy SCREAMING, “Max, what are you doing? Did you even see anyone there?” followed by my favorite: hands digging into the scalp, shaking head lowered below the knees in disgust. As Bart Simpson says, “Aye Carumba.”
Maybe we are all parents behaving badly. I never thought I would be yelling, “Go Shaker,” “Way to be there,” and “Awww, nice try.” Is that really my role here? I’m not sure.
Far worse, why are we so quick to make excuses for them? “Yeah, he had a sleep over last night; he’s exhausted,” “He’s already played two hockey games today,” or, my favorite, “I think he’s getting sick.” Seriously.
Not today. Today I will sit on this field of dreams where the kids can be kids, the parents can be spectators, and the coaches can be coaches. As Depeche Mode sang in my college days, “Words are very unnecessary, they can only do harm.” Enjoy the silence.