816 North Opinion

Susan Vollenweider: The latest first

Before kids appeared to me in the wailing, yet sweet-smelling flesh, I thought I knew it all. While I was very apprehensive about the firsts of that first baby, I felt armed with enough knowledge to face them. How many firsts could there possibly be?

It was about hour six post-delivery that I began to realize the unpredictable volume of firsts that were ahead of me. Despite my aggressive pregnancy reading list, imagination, parenting classes and friends with advice, I was clueless.

Baby came home and the firsts didn’t stop. So fast! So many! And a new feeling came with them: out-of-control cluelessness. At some point — maybe when the second child was nothing like the first — I accepted that the clueless feeling was a part of me and that the firsts would never end.

But after I stumbled through the early childhood of the third, and last, child, the clueless feeling drifted into the background. Life became sort of routine, predictable. The firsts and clueless feeling faded, just a bit.

Until last week.

Noah had brought home a permission slip for soccer camp weeks ago. While my kids have played most common games with balls — baseball, football, basketball, volleyball — none had played soccer, and neither did my husband or I. Like a lot of parents, admit it or not, we tried to steer them to sports we liked.

“I want to go to soccer camp,” Noah said, flyer in hand.

“How about this one?” We waved another flyer for basketball camp instead. “We can’t afford every camp but you are on a basketball team, wouldn’t you like to get better at that?”

“Yeah, I guess.”

So we threw out the soccer camp flyer.

But another appeared a few days later.

“I want to try soccer. I won’t know if I like it until I try it,” Noah used our own words on us.

Like most parents who try to steer their kids toward activities that they, themselves, like, we also know when we have to put our own interests aside.

Brian (with much drama) wrote a check for soccer camp and I marked it on the calendar.

A first!

“You’ll need shin guards and soccer socks,” Soccer Mom Skye told me later.

“Special socks?”

“They fold down over the shin guards,” she explained.

Another first! Staring at the soccer gear rack in a sporting goods store I debated: Shin guards with one calf strap, or a bonus foot strap that reminded me of stirrup pants from the 80s? What brand? What color?

“Why is the non-sporty parent in a sporting goods store?” I muttered to no one.

Finally the calendar declared it camp day.

“Noah, camp starts in 30 minutes, let’s go!”

He raced down the stairs, gear in hand. “How do these go on?”

I had no idea.

But I knew who did. My best friend, Google.

Within a few minutes I was wrestling and wriggling his sweaty foot into the shin guard and then the socks. Another first!

“These socks are too big!” he complained.

“Google and Skye say to fold them down.” I folded.

“Kick me.”


“Kick me, I want to see if they work.”

So I did.

He seemed pleased.

We raced off to camp, arriving mere minutes before it started…

…to an empty parking lot.

“Did you get the place wrong?”

I parked the minivan, “No, I checked the place before we left.”

What I didn’t check was the dates.

Another first!

Babies grow to teens, adulthood on the horizon. Firsts dwindle and cluelessness morphs to curiosity. Realizing and accepting all that? Another first.

Freelance columnist Susan Vollenweider lives in Smithville. For more of her writing, go thehistorychicks.com.