Sunday, July 03, 2011

Clapping and groaning

My friend Wendy wrote a great blog post the other day about watching her eldest son play sport, and seeing him grow up before her eyes. I am about to write something similar, as our boys are similar ages and we are probably getting similar insights at this point in our parenting careers, 9 or 10 years in. [But if you are after a really top piece of writing you'd be better served by reading Wendy's].

Marcus's team had a fantastic win against their toughest ever opposition last week. Yesterday they had another tough game, and again came out on top, but it was in the balance until near the end. A couple of times Marcus did things that just thrilled me, and neither of them involved the ball.

There is a lad in our team who Marcus has known since they were babies. They have never been great pals, but recently they have been really rubbing each other the wrong way. There have been stroppy outbursts at practice and even during games - pointing fingers and blame being dished around.

Yesterday this lad was goalkeeper in the first half, and Marcus was playing a loose "boss of the defence" role. We were up 1-0 when a shot came the keeper's way, went straight between his legs and into the net. I groaned and clapped (as I clap all the goals either team scores because I am a modern parent). Then I waited for the recriminations.

Marcus put his hand on the keeper's shoulder and said something to him gently. The keeper put his hand up to the whole team, in the international sign for "I made a mistake and I'm sorry". Marcus plays with such intense passion (and has since he was 6) that these are the moments when I hold my breath waiting to see which way it goes. I think both boys passed the test with flying colours.

One of the visiting team was a kid named Riley who Marcus knows from athletics, as well as playing soccer against him for years. They always get on pretty well, but I think Riley is the kind that gets on with everyone. Marcus and Riley went for the same ball at one stage. Marcus won it and in the process knocked Riley flat. Marcus kept going, passed the ball off and ran into attack. Riley was still flat on his face but I could see he was smiling, so I wasn't concerned. The ball went out, he hopped up and trotted off, and as they passed I heard Marcus say blithely "Sorry about that Riles, ya right?"

And that in a nutshell is exactly how I want Marcus to play sport.

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