It’s May 2021. You’ve likely been in quarantine with your family for an entire year, only able to attend events and see friends and family in far and few between moments. If you have high-risk family members, you may have even played it extra safe and pulled kids out of daycare entirely, not to mention older kids who weren’t able to attend school regularly at all. Que the question every parent is asking themselves: how will all of this affect our kids?
As a mom to one (Jimmy) born in 2018, I don’t necessarily characterize my son’s early life as typical of a “pandemic baby.” As soon as I was able, I was seeking out mom friends and playgroups, often hosting groups of up to 14 moms with their babies in my home. It was so lovely to see them all learning, playing and growing together. We also took full advantage of library classes, mommy-and-me museum sessions and park dates. Of course in early 2020 that all came to a screaming halt, and while I would consider myself and my husband a lot of fun, the fun probably wore off quickly when we were the only ones our toddler was interacting with every hour of every day.
As soon as vaccines became more available and things started to feel safer, you bet I signed up my boy in a “Lil’ Kickers” class with SoccerCity. Jimmy was so excited: he plays soccer in the backyard constantly, watches matches on YouTube and runs around shouting “GOAL!” in any scenario that remotely qualifies. I imagined he would be thrilled!
What I didn’t account for is that for the majority of my little guy’s life, the world that existed was as big as our home, grandma’s house and the park down the street. Walking into a huge soccer facility for the very first time was overwhelming to stay the least (cue the lower lip quiver, big time!). My husband carried Jimmy onto the field for his first class, and you would have thought the floor was lava. Anyone talking to him was clearly also a lava monster. Why would his parents put him through such torture! I’m talking head-back, mouth-open, snotting-everywhere type of crying … The kind that makes you want to stare at the walls in silence for the rest of the day!
We had the pleasure of attending class with Coach Ty who is clearly no rookie to working with kids. He had a very calm and humorous way about him that automatically put Jimmy (and his parents!) at ease. Coach Ty asked us to give it 2-3 more sessions, or to even sit on the side and just observe until he felt more comfortable.
Three weeks in, Jimmy woke up and said “SOCCER DAY!” We got to the SoccerCity field expecting another replay of the last two weeks, but this time Jimmy ran to the field on his own, grabbed a ball and sat in the circle ready to start. He not only participated, he laughed! He gave high-fives! He chased bubbles (yes that’s a part of soccer practice!), made himself into a soccer ball in the net, was always the front of the line during “red light, green light” and more! My husband and I were falling over ourselves with the adorableness of it all … our boy was back!
If you’re looking for a way to break your kids back into an environment of normality, SoccerCity is definitely where it’s at. Running, yelling, tears and laughs all have a home here! I cannot say enough good things about the staff and coaches for their professionalism and their patience with kids of every level. It’s a truly fun experience for kids and parents, too! Plus the naps afterwards are 💯🔥.
Kirsten Holder is a transplant from Michigan but calls the “land that is grand” her home. She graduated from Oklahoma City University and is passionate about the arts, community development and small business. She lives in a historic pocket in OKC with her young son Jimmy, husband Andrew and fur-child Clifford.