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Somehow twixt September and now, he’s turned into a soccer player

Submitted by on Thursday, 10 February 2011 No Comment

I’ve always said that Boots would be better off in a dance class than on a sports team, because he’s turned every game he’s ever been involved in into a recital. If  I could find a class other than ballet or tap, which Boots dismisses as “too girlish,” dance is exactly where he’d be.

Instead he winds up following Big Guy to whatever sport is in season, though they’re split at the moment after Big Guy opted to freeze my butt off during football instead of opting for warm and cozy indoor soccer. And he always winds up making whatever sport a series of sideshows starring him.

Boots was so notorious for his slides, glides, grinning and mugging during basketball season that a teammate’s mom nicknamed  him “Hollywood.” He’d then pout and complain, with all the angst that a constantly deprived younger sibling can muster, that no one would give  him the ball. “They can’t pass you the ball when you’re always on the floor,” I’d point out.

Soccer, with 10 tiny people hovering around the ball like sharks after chum, was even more challenging. “I can’t kick it,” he’d complain last spring. “Those mean kids keep taking it away from me!”

Fast-forward a year and you’ll see Boots trying to take the ball away from “those mean kids.” He’ll even succeed sometimes. He’s also learned that when the “mean kids” are on your own team you don’t try to take it away because a point’s a point no matter who scores it. He’s figured out from watching Big Guy cagily roam from sideline to sideline that when you’re on defense your job is to guess where the ball is going and stop it before it lands in the goal.

In short, one year and four sports into his athletic career he finally has a clue.

He’s probably not that far behind the average kid in catching on. It’s just that he was so different early on from Big Guy, who’s never spent a second helicopter-gazing or daisy-picking, that his antics seemed over the top. Sure, there’s the occasional player who makes it look easy. A friend on Boots’ tee ball team last year was so good so early that opposing coaches kept joking about checking his birth certificate. But that kid’s simply is a natural athlete – he’s honed in on whatever sport he tries. Boots, on the other hand, is a natural ham.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that. It is good to see, though, that he’s finally realized that there’s a time to clown, and if you want to play sports that time is not in the middle of a game.

At least, he’s mostly realized it. He did convince three teammates to join him in the hula while they were playing defense this week. Show me a 5-year-old goalie who can stay focused when the ball’s at the other end of the court, though, and I’ll show you a kid who’s catatonic.

Copyright 2011 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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