Two of my daughters started soccer Saturday. They’re on the same team. One is five and the other is six. They’re not even a year apart in age. But they approach everything from very different perspectives.
The more I hang out with my children the more I realize I have very little say in the people they are becoming. I love them. I correct their homework. I play with them. I drive them everywhere. But the way they see the world is the way they see the world. I’m just the tour guide pointing things out.
Sometimes you see yourself in them. And other times they just are so inexplicably…themselves that you can’t help but see God’s work.
On the first day of soccer practice earlier this week we pulled up to a parking lot of SUV’s and minivans and my six year old said, “I can’t wait to meet all my new friends.” Wow, I thought. What a way to approach life. But it’s how she approaches everything and I don’t know where she gets it. It’s just how she sees the world. Every child is a potential friend to her.
So Saturday was game day. My girls are on the dark green team and they were playing the bright yellow team. So as we pulled up, my six year old bounced excitedly in her car seat, “Oh there’s someone from the yellow team. Hello Yellow team!” she called out even though the windows were closed.
I looked in the rear view mirror and my five year old was also looking at the little boy in the yellow jersey but she says, “He’s so dead.”
My wife shot me a look. This look is a popular one as it is the look she uses whenever the five year old does anything bad as it typically reminds my wife of me. I raised my hands in innocence but she shook her head as if she knew better.
Well. We lost 3-0. My six year old spent most of the game dancing near her own net about thirty yards away from the action. Oddly, this strategy somewhat worked well as a distraction as a little blond girl in a yellow jersey spotted her, left the wilding pack in the middle of the field, and began an odd mixture of ballet and pop-and-lock next to my six year old. The two of them spent most of the rest of the game talking to the Green team goalie who didn’t bother to even notice the third goal. Honestly, the girl didn’t even turn her head.
Now, my five year old was…slightly different. She was assigned to be on defense by the coach. And the coach knelt down in front of her to explain to her that she was to stay in her spot until the ball came near her. Now I could tell just from the way her eyes weren’t meeting his that she wasn’t listening to a word he said because I know the look I give when I’m not listening and that was it. And as the ref blew his whistle to start the game she stood in her spot for about three seconds. I’m not kidding. Three. She looked quickly around, saw that the action was elsewhere and she was off.
She dove into the maddening crowd and let’s just say I turned the video camera off because I didn’t want video evidence for the charges which will surely be pressed against her. With absolutely no soccer skills whatsoever she pushed, pulled, shoved, and manhandled boys and girls much larger than herself. And the effect of all this brutality was that at one moment the other children started looking at her as one would a tornado with cleats and she was left completely alone with the ball and an open net. I’m actually not even sure where the yellow team’s goalie was. I think she was drinking Gatorade with her mother. But my five year old wound her leg up and amazingly kicked the ball almost directly behind her. I’m still unsure how it happened. But the crowd of dark green and bright yellow dashed after the ball leaving her behind. I felt so bad for her. I thought to myself that I knew just how she must feel as I would’ve been crushed. But instead my five year old looked up at me, gave me the thumbs up, smiled and dove back into the crowd.
My six year old danced on thirty yards away from everyone else. I think she was singing too.
Neither of them asked me the score of the game or if they won or lost. They didn’t have to. The six year old didn’t care and the five year old already knew it all too well. She asked if I could show her “some moves” so she could beat the yellow team next week. I said sure, except I don’t know any moves. When I played I just pushed, shoved and manhandled my way through it.