“We should make him run laps,” I muttered to my husband in disgust.
He snorted in response. “He’s 5.”
I shrugged and gestured toward our son as he fluttered around the soccer field like a ballerina on LSD.
“I don’t care,” I said. “Look at him! He’s not even trying. I’ve seen kids wearing full-body casts make a better effort.”
“When? And where?” my husband asked, apparently doubting my statement about viewing kids in full-body casts playing soccer. Come on. Like that’s so hard to believe.
“On YouTube. You can find anything on YouTube,” I answered. “In any case, it’s embarrassing.” I waved toward the field. “And what is he doing now? The ball is over here, and he’s way over there PULLING HIS SHIRT OVER HIS HEAD?! Oh, for the love of God.” I dropped my head into my hands and felt waves of shame wash over me.
“Hey, it’s kinda cold out there today,” my husband, Mr. The Glass is Half Full and apparently in the running for Parent of the Year, pointed out. “Maybe he’s cold.”
OK, so the unseasonable cool September Saturday was a little out of the norm. And the monsoon that preceded the game probably hadn’t helped. Big deal. So it was a little cold.
“Anyway, we don’t have room to complain,” my husband continued. “We’re sitting here in the car where it’s warm and dry.”
“Hey,” I answered defensively and waved my hand out the window, “we got the windows rolled down.”
The coach blew the whistle and hollered, “Half time!”
Our little boy ran over in excitement, yelling for water as if his little life depended on it.
I handed over the water bottle and watched him chug down half the contents in one big gulp. Man. He’s soooo gonna be a legend in some fraternity one day.
He finished, swiped his sleeve across his face and handed the bottle to his dad. Before he could turn and run back toward his teammates, I slapped my hands on his shoulders, looked him dead in the eye and yelled, “Let me see your game face!”
He smiled, put up his hands like an extra in “A Chorus Line” and sang, “La-di-dah-di-dah.” Then he giggled.
“I don’t think so,” I growled. “Like this,” and screwed up my face like I’d been constipated for a week and grunted.
The people sitting next to us – the nice people who actually sat on the sidelines in their lawn chairs who teach their children it’s not about winning, it’s about having fun and learning to play by the rules and the world is a warm and fuzzy place where everyone skips around eating lollipops – began to snicker behind their foam #1 fingers.
I waved my hand dismissively in their direction and told my son not to pay attention to them.
“Let’s try that again,” I instructed. “Game face. Now.”
He sighed but decided it was not time to push the crazy lady. He balled his fists, bared his teeth (even the two loose ones on the bottom) and grunted, “Grrrrrrrrr!”
Oh, it was a Dear Diary moment. Proudly, I wiped a tear from my eye, pointed toward the dastardly enemy (four little boys wearing cheery, Cookie Monster blue uniforms – they didn’t fool me) and hollered, “Now, go get ‘em!”
I watched my son run back on the field and high-five a teammate. OK, I thought. That’s a good start.
…And that was the highlight of the second half.
“Look at his teammate,” I told my husband. “Now THAT’S what I like to see. He’s a foot shorter than everyone else and running with his hands in his pockets and STILL beating them to the ball.” I paused and looked around for his parents. “I wonder if they’ll let us trade.”
My husband screeched like a little girl and answered, “You cannot be serious.”
“I guess not,” I conceded. But before I could make a mental note to have our son run laps after we got home, the game had ended, and I noticed my beautiful, spastic, goofy child was the first in line to perform the post-play “Good Game” slapping of the hands ritual.
I guess we must be doing something right after all. But maybe next time I can get him to do it with his game face on.