September 28, 2004

The Bad Team

My son is on a bad team, for soccer. It is the team where they have tumped all the nosepicking googlers who run haplessly and joyfully across the field like cheerful goats. Confused but good-hearted goats. Goats with recent head injuries, uncomprehending, just running the same direction everyone else seems to be going in. Ball? What Ball? We’re just happy to be out in the sun.

OH! Not TRUE! There is one aggressive little booger who VALIENTLY MEANS IT and seems to UNDERSTAND THE RULES. But he is, unfortunately, less than 3 feet high. He is CONSTANTLY in the very thick of it, kicking wildly at the ball with his teeny legs with the entire other team swarming and surging HUGELY around him until he is enveloped and vanishes. Then the opposing team surges forward and there he is, a sad, small smear on the grass. But he bounces back up and RUNS RUNS RUNS to thrust himself RIGHT back in there. You gotta like him.

You gotta like the rest of them too, even though they can’t play SOCCER for SPIT. They trail after the other team, milling cheerfully about. First game, they lost 16 to 0. Second game. 14 to 1. The little guy somehow scored.

The best part: THEY HAVE NO CLUE. After the first TOTAL SLAUGHTER Sam came bounding joyfully off the field saying “MOM? DID WE WIN?” I hated to tell him, but I said, no, in point of fact, you did NOT win. But he didn’t seem to care. “MOM? CAN I HAVE A SNO-CONE?” Sure. Sure you can.

The worst part: I AM SO COMPETITIVE. I sit between my husband and my friend Julie and clutch desperately at the arms of my folding chair lest I leap wildly to my feet screaming KILL! KILL THEM ALL! COME ON BOYS! KILLLLLLLLLLLL! Julie’s husband is as bad as me.

Sam doesn’t seem to care. He has the JACKSON confidence, which is huge and often misplaced in that it generally has very little to do with one’s abilities. He is years from puberty, which is usually when the equal and opposing scoop of self-loathing gets activated in the Jackson genes. So for now, low self-esteem is NOT A PROBLEM HERE.

It’s a church league, and after the game, the coach gives out stars. A red star for the best goalie. A green star for best defense. Every kid gets a star, every week. So after the first game, they all gathered around for the prayer and star awards.

Coach: This blue star is for the best offense. Who do you think did the best at offense today?
Sam: That was probably me!
Coach: And this star is for good sportsmanship – who was a good sport?
Sam: I think I was!
Coach: This white star is for Christlike behavior. Who best exemplified Christ today?
Sam: Oh that was me. Definitely. I’m JUST like Christ!

And so on like that. He was FIRMLY convinced he had rightfully earned every star, and he was UNAFRAID to say so. In his loud, loud, trumpeting Jackson voice. He got the star for best defense, but even after it was awarded him he still kept nominating himself for every star that came along.

I was ready to bury my head in the earth. Or maybe to bury his. But at some point, Sam noticed his best friend, Nick, had not yet gotten a star. One of the last stars was for best goalie. When the coach asked who the team thought had done the a good job there, my son, my excellent son, stopped campaigning for best everything, even stopped hoovering up Sno-Cone, and he said, “I think that was Nick. Nick was the best.”

He can’t play soccer for SPIT. For SPIT, do you hear me? But I think I will keep him.

Posted by joshilyn at September 28, 2004 7:44 AM

Oh, DO keep him! Unless you decide to UPS him and beautiful Maisy here...
Tre was JUST THAT SORT of soccer player. He had a habit of ducking AWAY from the ball, should it by some freak circumstance come near him. Then he would REMEMBER what he was doing, and FLY TOWARD the ball and kick kick kick...
I would quietly die on the sidelines. Particularly when the other children took the ball away and Tre failed to notice. Oh yes.
Plus? Once he went to the wrong team to eat oranges at halftime. That is actually his best memory from soccer, and he laughs at it still.

Posted by: Kira at September 28, 2004 10:19 AM

After reading this I missed Sam so much it was physically painful. I had to go have a nice long WEEP before I could return and tell you that Jack would fit RIGHT in. Jack is on an excellent soccer team, a winning team, and on that team my poor son is the BAD player. On Saturday morning his fabulous team TROUNCED the opposition 13-0. EVERY CHILD on Jack's team scored, even the one who can only be described as a weenie. EXCEPT JACK. He was too busy doing somersaults down the field (Yes! Literally!) to even notice. At the end of the game he announced happily "MOM! WE killed them!!" We? Yeah right. This would have been less embarassing had I not been sitting next to the parents of our team's miniature Pele. SIGH. At least he can swim.

Posted by: Amy at September 28, 2004 1:46 PM

That is so adorable my teeth hurt. Actually ache.

Posted by: Mir at September 28, 2004 4:45 PM

I miss reading you so much!!!

Posted by: Heather at September 28, 2004 9:44 PM

That was epic.

Posted by: Klint at September 29, 2004 12:19 AM