The Tradition I'm Going To Miss After My Daughter Leaves Home

Our daughters understood that we are on the cusp of having empty nests, and let us have this moment.

There are two traditions that run deep in the AYSO recreational soccer league. The first is the snacks competition. Reality TV shows have missed the boat on this one: Snack wars among soccer moms is epic and something that, once witnessed, you can never un-see. Yes, who knew that gluten-free could get ugly?

The second tradition is much sweeter -- the parents' tunnel. When the kids were young, the parents after each game would form two lines and make an archway with their arms -- a tunnel -- for the players to run through.

The tunnel tradition disappeared somewhere around age 12 when the players were less interested in running through their parents' arms and instead raced to retrieve their cellphones that have been stashed away in soccer bags for the previous hour.

Last night was my high school senior's final AYSO soccer game. On a team that essentially has been together since U6 -- give or take a few players -- they lost their final game in their final season in a heartbreaking loss to their rivals from across the freeway. It was a frigid, damp, and windy night in Southern California and college applications were paused while the girls came to fight their final fight as a team. They spent a bitter cold two hours charging down the soccer field for the last time under lights that make everything look sickly yellow. 

Yeah, we lost. A few bad ref calls. A few elbows thrown just because. And poof, the soccer sisters of Malibu were finished. Except for one shining moment, that I will cherish:

"Hey, aren't you going to do a tunnel?" asked one girl.

"They want us to do a tunnel!!" one excited mom spread the word down the line. "We're doing a tunnel! A tunnel!" "OMG! They want us to do a tunnel!!"

I watched the girls, all of them now too tall to fit under the archway we formed, run down giving high fives, big smiles on their faces. There went Emma, who wants to land at an urban college for a change of scenery; there went Sangita, still making her case for a gap year; Sophie (my daughter) who ran through the tunnel on her way to saving the world; followed by Zola, who not even I can discourage from a career in journalism; and yes, the future veterinarian, lawyer, photographer, kinesiologist and even one professional soccer player.  All of them amazing young women who understood their parents' need for one final tunnel.

Could amiable snacks be far behind?

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