According to the Urban Dictionary, the phrase herding cats comes from the common saying that something involving coordination of many different groups or people is as difficult as herding cats.
I never thought I would ever actually witness someone trying to herd cats. But I did… for six early morning Saturdays in a row.
Herding cats… AKA… Pre-k soccer!
So here’s how it works… give up any thoughts of your child learning strategy or anything beyond the most rudimentary skills. At this age, all he/she will want to do is kick the ball into a goal and they’re not very picky about which one. They all want to get the ball and will go after it at once, creating a herd of little cats with a ball somewhere in the middle. You’ll find one player swinging from the goal post, and another that won’t leave his mommy’s lap. Half of the team will have their backs turned to the ball because a plane flew overhead and the other half have tackled each other to the ground in fits of giggles and screams. And then there’s Lucas… tiptoeing through the tulips. AND… we pay to be a part of it!
Coach Aaron, he had the toughest job of all. First, he had to keep them all on the field, as they were typically running in every which direction the wind took them. Once he managed that feat, Coach Aaron herded the group towards the ball and somehow convinced said herd to kick it in a specific direction, which you hoped was in the direction of the correct goal.
I have to admit, it was sometimes a bit painful to watch.
The only thing that might be more amusing than watching the game is to listen to that one parent on the side line. You know the one. 🙂 At the beginning of the season expectations are high and we cheer and shout for them to kick goals, block the ball or if we’re lucky, steal the ball from the other team. By the end of the season, the shouts and cheers change to hoping your kid doesn’t throw a fit because the other team scored a goal. “Get the ball, get the ball!” “Block the ball!” “No, the OTHER way!” “Kick the ball!”
In the end, the pictures are taken, the trophies are given, and we all cheer that the season is over.
So, what was the most important lesson learned in our first season of soccer? For any parent it’s that your child isn’t going to be the next Tom Brady, LeBron James, Jordan Spieth, Michael Phelps, or David Beckham (although I secretly have high hopes for a Jordan Spieth.) Just get that crazy notion out of your head now.
The whole reason you sign your pre-k’er up for soccer, or tee ball or throw ’em into the pool isn’t because you’re working for a future endorsement deal to solidify your future retirement plans, it’s because early morning soccer/tee-ball/swim meets are a great way to keep your child active so they’ll take a nap later.