There are all of those firsts that we experience as parents. First steps. First word. First time he correctly uses profanity. These are the things that make us proud. When I was younger, I was the kid who slept in his soccer uniform the night before games. I was (he sheepishly admitted) the one who cried when my games got rained out (which may have continued well into my 30s, but I’m not necessarily copping to that). I played soccer for more than 30 years. So, needless to say, when K-Man had his first soccer practice last weekend, my heart was in my throat.
I’ve tried very hard not to be the “sports dad.” I haven’t pushed sports in K-Man’s face at every opportunity. I’m not the “Hey, let’s play catch” guy, when all K-Man really wants to do is play with his Transformers. I’ve made a tremendous effort to support and nurture his interests and, up until last weekend, his interest weren’t really around sports. True, he didn’t ask to be registered for a soccer team, but if he had hated it – last weekend might have been his last practice. And, that would have been okay.
But, he loved it. As did I.
Watching him dribble the ball, pass the ball and even pick up the ball and run (I did play goalie after all), was…was…was…I’m not even sure how to describe it. It was indescribable. Unlike any other “first” that I’ve experienced so far in this thing called fatherhood. I’m not going to pretend that he’s some kind of sports wunderkind. I’m not going to tell you how he ran circles around the other kids. It didn’t happen. And, of course, it didn’t even matter. He had fun. He smiled. He laughed. He asked to play next week.
As we were leaving the park, though, he asked me something that would make my own dad proud. “Dad,” K-Man asked. “Can I buy a soccer shirt and shorts and shoes and socks and what are those things called that go on your legs?” I told him they were call shinguards. “Yeah, shinguards. Can I buy those too?” Nothing would make me happier, kid.