Sunday, September 10, 2006

Manufactured Memories

Because there are not enough real events in life in which my children can produce heartwarming, touching moments of golden beauty that will be remembered forever (or at least until the associated souvenirs find their way to the trash can), the 'powers that be' have derived several different ways to provide those moments to me. One of them occurred this past Saturday at 7:30 AM when we lined up for the 'soccer parade'.

What exactly is a 'soccer parade', you ask? Well its a parade of kids marching with uniforms (of the fancy kind, with matching shorts and their names on the back) costumes and banners down main street to celebrate the first day of their soccer season. Ostensibly its put together because its 'fun for the kids', although based on the proceedings I think I could have covered the parts my daughter found to be the high points on my own - namely by feeding her 2 donuts in rapid succession and then standing at a distance of 5 yards and chucking candy grabbed out of a bucket at her. In reality its a photo of for all the parents and relatives lined up in the parade (marching with the kids) and along the side of the road. Plus I guess for the three other people awake in town at 7:30 AM on a Saturday its a bit of a thrill. Or a nuisance. Or both.

Now, given the fact that I'm generally a bit of a grinch when it comes to cheesy, contrived events (I put them on the same level as holidays which may have had some real significance but are now just fabricated to support the greeting card industry (see, you can bet where my opinion on the whole thing rested. Sure, kids love getting dressed up in costumes but that love seems to be on par with the thrill of sitting in an office chair and having dad spin you real fast (and the latter doesn't involve herding them into a car at ten to seven in the morning).

So anyway, to bring this post to a poignant, soul searching close, you can bet this whole shin dig had me reflecting back upon my life and what soccer/sports activities were like when I went through them. We'll suffice to say, back in my day we didn't have fancy uniforms and there definitely wasn't a parade just to celebrate the fact that the season was starting. You had to earn the fancy uniforms by being picked / qualifying for the inter-city traveling team and only then you got access to the spiffy home and away jerseys and gear bags with your name on them. No inter-city squad membership = team uniform that consisted of a crappy color t-shirt. And everyone had the same crappy t-shirts (no fancy uniforms allowed), which eliminated the "haves and have nots" friction between kids and quite frankly was more than enough of a uniform for first and second graders who spend more time kicking each others shins than they do the ball.

As a result it taught a valuable lesson on life - sure, money from your parents can buy you a lot of fancy things and make you look good on the outside. And people can give you trophies and parades for things you didn't really earn, which give a fleeting sense of happiness until the buzz wears off. But if deep down you suck at what you do and don't want to bother trying to get better at it you'll never really earn the good stuff.

So work your ass off and earn the neat-o gear bag.


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