Los Angeles, CA
October 6, 2012
Pan Pacific Park
The Vipers dribble, then pass and the spectators’ heads follow to-and-fro as the ball moves through the sea of six-to-eight-year-olds’ legs. There is a kick to the net, then a calm and collected defender’s foot connects with the trying ball and its cleared to the other side of the field in an arc that reminds me of an imaginary rainbow and that incites “ooooohs and aaaahs” from the crowd. A forward for the Green Ninja Leprechauns is there to meet it and drive it home. Gooooalll!
My kid is not the one who scores the goal. My kid is the one who silently connected with the ball to clear it away from his opponent’s sweet spot on the field. My kid is the one who mimes rainbows with a soccer ball and looks for a teammate to connect with down the field. For Nathan, defending the goal is his mission. And he’s damn good at it.
Would I love my kid to score a goal? Absolutely. Would I love him to dribble and show off his fancy footwork? Of course. But I’m thrilled Nathan always plays defense. He’s good at it and more importantly he loves it.
Today, we won 5-1. And he is still bummed about the 1. I mention his sub was in when the Vipers scored and that as long as he has fun and tries his best, it doesn’t matter (for now). And I remind him, he still has to cheer for his teammates and congratulate everyone (even his opponents) when a goal is made. He claps and I’m proud of him in more ways than just blocking goals.
And secretly inside, I clap too. I’m thrilled Nathan acknowledges the need for improvement, the need to be the best and has the drive to make him great. He defends goals now. But I see is a kid that makes his own damn rainbows and finds his own sweet spot on a field of dreams.