This spring, my 5-year-old son and 3-year-old daughter played on soccer teams for the first time. If you haven't had the experience of watching young children play soccer before, trust me it is entertaining and sometimes quite hilarious to watch.

Last Saturday was their final game. Following their games, it was very cute to see both children receive their Valuable Player trophies with such pride. As I watched my little ones walk back to the car, trophies and team pictures in hand, I thought I noticed a bit of newfound confidence in their steps. They were soccer players and had actually received an award for it. It was good for them to have the experience of playing on a team and feeling accomplishment from it, regardless of their skill. I chalked up our first go at soccer as a successful one.

Yes, the experience was a fun one. But of course, as in any experience, there are lessons to be learned along the way. Here are some valuable ones I learned this season which will most likely be the first of many soccer seasons to come:

1. Expect to spend more time in the 2x2 square foot port-a-potty with your 3-year-old player than actually watching their game.

2. No matter how many times you ask your children to use the restroom before leaving the house, and no matter how many times they actually do, they WILL express a need to "go" promptly upon your arrival to the game. The following potty scramble will likely render your otherwise timely arrival as late.


3. Plan on spending the first half of the season coaxing your child to actually play in their game.

4. Once your child plays don't be surprised if the first and only goal they score the whole season is for the opposing team.

5. Cheer anyway.

6. There is much to be invested. Not only must you pay the sign-up fee and buy a team jersey, you also must buy shin guards, soccer cleats, team treats and team pictures. Don't worry. By the time it's over, you are only at roughly 25 bucks per half hour game (more if you count the two out of six games you missed due to being out of town and a sick day.)

7. Remember those newly purchased shin guards and cleats? They are a little tricky for young children to put on by themselves. And they always take longer to get on your child than you think. Plan on getting really good at squeezing and pulling your child's gear onto them in the back seat of the car as you rush to get to the game.

8. Don't be surprised if your child is more interested in getting a turn sitting in the foldout camping chairs you brought than getting a turn in their game.

9. Take lots of photos of your child running on the field because somehow those pictures make it look like they were really into it.

10. Make sure to take photos of the not-so-perfect moments, as well. Those will be the most fun to look back on.

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