Every Wednesday I offer tips for adulthood.
Last year about this time I wrote a post for Politics Daily called A Reluctant Soccer Mom. The occasion for that post was attending my first professional football (soccer) game over here in the U.K., and the begrudging recognition that I actually knew way more about the sport - (courtesy of my son) - than I'd ever imagined was possible.
But now I'm wondering if it's time to rethink the label "soccer mom" for myself (which I use in the strictly sporty sense, BTW, not as a reference to an American electoral demographic.) And that's because on Saturday, I attended my son's first competitive football match on a club team. As I stood there amid all the other parents cheering on their boys in "The Hub" at Regent's Park, I realized that perhaps I didn't fit in quite so well after all.
To wit, here are five signs that you're not a Sports Mom (or Dad):
1. You come to games in the wrong outfit. I'm not quite sure what came over me when I got dressed on Saturday morning but somehow I decided that getting ready for a football game on a potentially muddy field meant that I needed to come dressed as a farmer attending the first County Fair of the season. I dug out some overalls (dungarees) from Lord knows what era of my life, a pair of Wellies and a windbreaker. Yes, I did don a baseball cap which should have upped my sporty cred. But coupled with the jumbo-sized overalls, I at best looked like a painter (as one sports Dad friend observed with a chuckle.) We all know that if your kid plays sports, you yourself need to look sporty as well, wearing some combination of sweat pants, running tights, hoodie and the du rigueur visor. So instead of looking like this, I looked more like this. What on earth was I thinking?
2. You're not really interested in the game. OK, it probably wasn't a great sign of my inherent enthusiasm in the game that I brought along two International Herald Tribunes and one New Yorker just in case things got slow. As the match went on, I also found that other parents were conducting a running commentary alongside the coaches - yelling things that you only hear in British football like "Good tackle!" when someone blocks another player or "Unlucky!" when your team fails to score a goal. I, meanwhile, was absolutely mesmerized by the extent to which Hungarian does or does not resemble any of the other European languages. (Another mum was Hungarian.) Needless to say, she had to keep averting her eyes from me so that she could actually watch her son play the game. (Clearly I should have also brought this along to read.)
3. You cheer for the other team. At one point during the match, the other team scored its first goal. (We were already up by two at that point.) I instinctively clapped for them and yelled "Well done!" only to be greeted by a glare from another Dad. "What? You mean I can't clap for the other side?" I asked, chiding him. "Clapping's fine," he retorted. "But you don't need to say 'Well done!'"
4. You secretly wish that your child was doing drama. Hey, what can I say? I was a drama geek all throughout elementary, junior high and high school. I think that drama is good for kids in precisely the way that sports are good for kids - it teaches teamwork and cooperation and instills a sense of identity and belonging. And yes, it goes without saying that I also watch Glee.
5. Your own best sports are indoor. By which I mean pool (billiards) and bowling. Nuff' said.
Delia Lloyd is a writer based in London. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The International Herald Tribune, and The Financial Times. She blogs about adulthood at www.realdelia.com. She tweets @realdelia. Friend her on Facebook.