Chris Erskine: AYSO ceremony is OK for openers

There's a cricket in the kitchen. Chirps all night long, like he's trying to sell me something.

I'm not sure how the cricket got into the house, though I suspect he was carried in by some kid. In my experience, children are vessels for any sort of unpleasantness. Bugs. Mucus. Bad breath. Were there no kids, there would be no germs. It's not a coincidence that cold and flu season start in the fall, when kids are running rampant.

Anyway, we have this cricket in the kitchen. I think he's a teenager, for he's up all night. At first, he was by the fireplace, but then he jitterbugged to a spot near the refrigerator, which is where most of the action takes place in our house.

"Can you go up in the attic today?" the little guys asks.


"Because that's where the cricket is," he says.

Everybody's got an opinion on this cricket's whereabouts. The attic. The cabinet. My nose. It's a little like trying to pin down a car rattle, each person hears something different.

In the light of day, when we might most be inclined to do something about the cricket, he goes silent. By night, when we are exhausted and prone to surrender, he begins to sing again.

There are advantages to having a cricket in the house. You don't need to ever walk them. They don't shed. And last night, he performed the theme from "Monday Night Football," which is why I suspect he's a he. Posh tried to make requests, something by John Mayer, but the cricket didn't respond. He's not an iPod, I told her. He's an artist.

"Hear that?" I ask.


"Brahms," I say.

"Like you know Brahms," Posh says dismissively.

This is a woman, mind you, who wouldn't even attend the opening ceremonies for AYSO soccer last Saturday. Now, admittedly, nobody but a 5-year-old actually enjoys opening ceremonies, yet it's just something you do, like open house or back-to-school night. You can't "hit for the cycle" in the suburbs and not go to opening ceremonies in September. You just grit your teeth and go.

The other moms went. One mother was there with two baby strollers and three husbands. That's not a lifestyle I envy, but neither am I to judge. The point is: With all her responsibilities, all the complexities she has in her unconventional, multi-husbanded life, this woman still managed to attend the God-forsaken opening day soccer ceremonies.

"We don't have doughnuts?" one kid kept asking.

"No, we don't have doughnuts," I said.

"I want a doughnut," he said.

We are the one team out of 300 that didn't bring doughnuts to opening ceremonies. As it was, we had kids literally climbing the walls as we waited to parade in. One was about two feet from the Rose Bowl rafters before we found a crane to peel him down. So, no, we didn't bring doughnuts. Actually, I might've brought doughnuts, but for the fact I was racing across town trying to pick up a uniform for a kid who never even showed up for opening ceremonies. Half the stuff coaches do is invisible -- the meetings, the paperwork, the drinking -- and this was just another little hiccup in prepping a team for opening day.

Fortunately, the soccer ceremony went well -- my 20th -- and then the players all met up later for our first game in the ultra-competitive 6-year-old division. I had opening day jitters, but the boys seemed all right with things, wild as they were.

We started by singing our fight song:

Soccer is the game we love,

We kick, we claw, we scream, we shove . . .

Then the game begins. It is for them a Pearl Harbor, for there is enemy aircraft circling everywhere and it's hard to make sense of things. Every once in a while, an adult in a canary-yellow shirt blows a whistle and yells, but the game keeps going anyway. Then someone goes barreling into your gut, cleats flying. Might be a teammate, might be an opponent, might be a mom.

It's opening day, after all, and things aren't supposed to make a whole lot of sense. But in the end, everyone gets snacks and goes home happy.

Of course, I've got a serious bite on my knee that I can't explain, and one kid took out my left retina with a straw.

Except for that, opening day was perfect.