My son and middle daughter had their soccer season openers Sunday. They both decided to play again this year after a several-year hiatus from the sport. I think the wait did them both a bit of good. Please understand that I love soccer, and this has been proven time and again. (Most recently was this past week, when I texted a picture of the news brief from this very paper about my oldest daughter’s first varsity goal to about two dozen family and friends.) But there is only so much I can take of my children’s behavior before I throw in the towel.
My middle daughter’s last foray into the soccer world came when she was 5 or 6 years old. She was asked to play goalie, and she obliged. But her attention span was short – very short – and she quickly lost interest in just standing there. Instead, she stuck her head through one of the holes in the net and rested her neck upon it. From there, she gazed up into the sky, watching birds fly by. She was, of course, oblivious to the balls flying by as the other team scored not once, but twice before the coach pulled her in favor of a more interested player. Shortly thereafter, she decided to give up soccer in favor of Girl Scouts because, and I quote, “The outfits are cuter.”
My son, on the other hand, was quite interested in the field. Playing the field, that is. He never chased a soccer ball the whole season, but every girl on his team was chased at least once. The Sunday I realized he was just too young to understand what was going on was the day that he frolicked across the green expanse of grass holding the hand of another player.
They skipped jovially along a white line, unaware of what was going on around them. Suddenly, the girl fell down, but my son – still unmindful of what was happening – kept going. He drug her like a caveman for several yards before he realized what was happening and let go. It was the only time I had to apologize to a parent ON MY OWN TEAM for my child’s aggressive play.
But after a few years away, they both seemed excited about playing this weekend. My daughter particularly enjoyed midfield, which generally requires the most running. I’m glad she got over her whole phobia about getting sweaty!
My son said he enjoyed all of the positions he played, and seemed particularly inclined toward defense. No worries about him getting bored standing still in the goal box, though. He bounced around and followed the ball regardless of which side of the fifty it was on.
It was particularly exciting to see how happy they each were after their games. They both want to go to practice and are even kicking a ball around together in the yard on off days. I must say, however, that it is not all different. My son told the only girl on his team Sunday that he really needed her, and my daughter is quite excited that her uniform is a little different than all the rest. I guess some things never change.
Laura Zoeller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.