01 May 2014

Kicking and Screaming

The Doozer had his first soccer game. So far, Pelé, he ain’t.

Also, they played their first game after only two practices. What does anybody expect out of this operation? Of course, they did manage to win. 2-0. Yes, after approximately 50 minutes of mass chaos, the Doozer’s team emerged victorious with their first shutout.

Not that our son had anything to do with it.

Sure, he was rotated through different positions. He played defense, midfield, and forward, where he even got to kick off the ball at the center. And then he just watched it go, while every single other kid on the field chased after it. And he turned and waved at his family.

He didn’t so much run up and down the field like the others, as much as skip. And watch the ball as it rolled around. And right past him.

Multiple times.

As I watched this all unfold (in between tag-teaming Little Brother and chasing him down across vast green fields), something strange happened. I started to feel self-conscious. On the Doozer’s behalf. Which is weird, because he certainly wasn’t feeling that way. He was having a blast.

But suddenly, the world was split into jocks and nerds all over again. I started to worry what the other kids, the other parents, the coach would think about our son.

“Is our kid the team space cadet?” I asked my wife.

She rolled her eyes (as she is wont to do). “He’s having fun.”

And she was right. He was. But still. I worried. I want the whole world to love and adore my kid as I do. I don’t want him to be laughed at or dismissed or judged. Now or ever. It dawned on me that I never really figured out how to be a real grown-up before I went and did something really grown-up like have kids. Probably should’ve worked on that.

There’s nothing I want more than to teach my kids how to be confident. And self-assured. Be true to themselves. And let their freak flag fly. But how do you do that when you struggle with it yourself?

As I continued to watch, I began to think, What does this matter? This ridiculous soccer game being played by maniac children. It doesn’t matter. Right? In the grand scheme of things, in light of everything going on in the world, in this crazy, mixed-up universe, what does this matter? And how my kid chooses to play—or not play, as it were—in said game. Sure, it’d be nice if he was the next David Beckham and strangers came up to me to applaud his otherworldly performance. But he’s not. So what? Who cares? 

Why am I still thinking about this? Days later. What is wrong with me?

At the next practice, when the coach was assigning positions, he asked the Doozer where he wanted to play.

“Defense!” the Doozer replied, with surprising enthusiasm.

“Okay, go,” the coach told him.

And with that the Doozer ran—or possibly skipped—downfield toward his position. But then suddenly, he stopped. And turned to me.

“Dad, what’s defense?”

It was the best moment of my week. Or maybe of my life. I mean, I created that delightful little human being. And he is perfect as he is.

I was wrong about everything. Suck at soccer all you want. And please don’t ever change.

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