Reece has been wanting to play soccer for a very long time now, but there wasn't a program available in our area where I felt she could be successful. A traditional program would be too competitive and chaotic for her. Sports are very competitive in our area, even for young children. But the local soccer club announced they were going to offer a program for special needs kids this spring and I jumped at the chance. On top of being close to our home, it was also going to be extremely inexpensive! Reece would have the chance to play soccer!
Yesterday was the first day. The schedule was to include 30 minutes of drills, 30 minutes of scrimmage, and 15 minutes of penalty kicks. We arrived a little early and Reece played around with her new ball! (And I played around with the "sports" setting on my new camera - LOVE it!)
The first 20 minutes were very successful. Each child was assigned a teenage buddy, who is an experienced soccer player. They kicked the ball around, and then did some drills. One of the drills caused Reece a lot of confusion because the other kids were encouraged to try to "steal her ball", and she had a meltdown. Daddy took her out of the action to calm down, and then she decided she didn't want to go play anymore, she just wanted to watch. But I encouraged her to get back out there and try.
She was still one edge from the meltdown and it was time for scrimmage. Their 'team' was to wear these bright green things over their jerseys to separate them from the other team. Green - as if it weren't bad enough that the uniforms are all green, now they wanted her to put more green on?? It was too much and she started to meltdown again. Daddy wanted to pull her out again, but I disagreed. I've seen her pull herself together - like she did at ice skating (which I need to blog about at some point) and at the playplace, both last week. It's hard to watch while it's happening, especially since she tends to verbally meltdown while she's having the physical meltdown. By verbally meltdown, I mean she will say how bad she is and nothing she does is right and how everybody thinks they are better than her and how everybody is staring at her on and on and on and on and on. We get a LOT more of these lately than tears, and honestly I think they are harder to deal with! LOL
So we left her out there playing goalie - not wearing the green thing - and her soccer buddy was talking her through it. I tried to go out once to help and she flipped out. "No! NO! Here comes Mommy! I'm in trouble, now! She's going to be mad!" So I decided to just let the buddy handle it and see what happened. The goalie part was hard for her because she didn't really understand what was going on. It's all so new and they weren't really playing "real rules" soccer, since it's a special needs league. But soon enough the scrimmage was over. It was time to wrap up with penalty kicks.
By this time we were an hour into soccer, with accompanying meltdowns, and she was really worn out. And so was I. I have to admit that I cried behind my sunglasses for the entire scrimmage part. It was so hard to see everyone out there having so much fun and enjoying themselves and my baby - who was so excited to play soccer - was so incapable of enjoying it. It absolutely broke my heart. But she did a couple of penalty kicks and it ended on a relatively good note. They tried to get her to put her hand in for a group cheer circle thing at the end but she was just done by that time - and she had seen someone flying a kite so she was interested in that instead. I thanked her buddy profusely for all her patience, and she said that it was fine and that Reece is really very good with her soccer skills!
I really figured she would be done with soccer after that experience. But while we were looking at pictures last night she had a lot of positive things to say, including "next time...." so I guess she is able to remember the good parts about it and let some of the bad parts go. And now that she knows what to expect, maybe it will be easier. And this week, I think we'll take turns "stealing the ball" from each other!