Monday, May 2, 2011

Existential baseball and the unbearable lightness of soccer

My dear child is 4.5 years old, and since it is that time in life when one begins trying out organized sports, we signed him up for both soccer and T ball. We have been to two soccer games. Games is a term I am using veeerrrrrry loosely. So loosely that one might consider finding a completely different term to define what goes on for that hour when 8 or so kids in the same color tshirt assemble in the same rectangular space on the field, which butts up against many other rectangular spaces on the larger field where kids in different colored tshirts congregate accordingly. For the first half hour, the coaches run some practice drills. Dribbling, shooting at the net, passing to each other. These are 4-6 year olds. There is a lot of time being spent chasing balls that have wandered off into other teams' rectangular space. If you are my kid, there is a lot of time spent on your back, having flung yourself on the field after pretending the ball has exploded. Every time one of the coaches turned and looked at Cooper, he was on the ground. They would pick him up asking if he was OK, not having seen the preceding 10 seconds where he very elaborately fell to the ground acting out the blow up sequence. The other kids on the team may not be any more interested in playing soccer than he is, but at least they appear to be listening and make a half hearted effort to follow instructions. The second half of the hour is spent in a scrimmage against another team. Usually in 5 on 5 pods, with no goalie. So far our orange team has scored one goal each "game" and the other teams have scored a bazillion goals. I don't really care that our team has not "won". But watching my kid play, when it is his turn to be in one of the pods, makes me wonder for his future in ANY organized activity. Because while he is running down the field trying to move the ball in one direction or the other, he is usually in the back of the pack, doing a series of leaps and kicks and flinging his arms in a way that only because I am his mother do I know represents him acting out any number of super hero moves. That one with a kick and leap is probably from Avatar, the Last Air Bender. That move with the arms and legs is Iron Man fighting Whiplash, with a dash of War Machine thrown in.

On the one hand he just makes me laugh. I mean, I have always wanted to be someone who didn't care at all about who was looking and what they were thinking, and just do what I wanted to do. To revel in the joy and exuberance of whatever was going on, leaping and falling all over the ground. On the other hand I worry that my kid is The Weird Kid. Or is at least well on his way to being that kid.

T ball went pretty much the same way, except he had a partner in crime. His best friend from next door is on his t ball team, and the two of them could not have cared less that they were supposed to be practicing batting, or fielding balls. At one point there were about 20 kids in the outfield, with 5 third basemen and not one kid out there had the foggiest clue what they were supposed to be doing. It was a baseball game in theory only. Coop was out there with L, fake fighting and falling on the ground every 12 seconds. Then when it was their turn to bat, they were in the "dug out" which was a box spray painted on the ground, rolling around having super hero fights. Or knocking each others' hats off. I do not want him to squash down and extinguish that enthusiasm, but I do want him to pay attention and participate. So we have to find the balance. I don't care if he is good at any of it, but I want him to focus and try. In the meantime, I might have to suggest to the coaches that if they were to design their practices with super hero moves in mind, they might make more progress.

This video is from t ball. This gentleman is the grandfather of a kid on Coopers' team, and he kept us all quite entertained with his guitar. It was a good night.

1 comment:

Dproudmama said...

Absolutely precious. We love weird kids. 4-6 yr. olds with "focus" - love it.