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Boots learns how to play soccer – thanks to Big Guy

Submitted by on Friday, 29 January 2010 No Comment

For years, Boots dreamed of joining Big Guy on that glorious place called the soccer field.

He ran onto the grass in the middle of practice. He threw  tantrums so horrific he was banned from going to games. He cried in the fall when we bought new gear for Big Guy. “No fair! You never let me play!”

At last, Boots’ time came. For the first two practices, though, he gave every indication of no longer giving a flip. That was before Big Guy got involved and Boots suddenly found a competitive spirit.

It’s not that Boots didn’t love every part of soccer preparations. He was thrilled when we bought two sets of socks, shoes and shin guard. At last, a set for him, all shiny and new. He couldn’t wait to try them on.

He quickly couldn’t wait to get them off. “These are itchy,” he complained. “Take them off now!”

“You’ll get used to them,” I said.

At least scratching at the offending scraps gave him something to do at practice. That and flopping on the floor. I felt bad that his first soccer season was indoor and he didn’t have any grass to pick or dandelions to pluck.

Ay but he did have a bottle to sip from, and he did so repeatedly. “Need another water break!” he’d chirp even though he’d yet to break a sweat.

And so it went for a week, with Boots sipping, flopping and only occasionally agreeing to kick the ball. “I can’t kick it,” he complained. “Those mean kids keep taking it away from me!”

Finally, though, he found a “mean kid” he was willing to battle. It was the same “mean kid” he’s been brawling with for years. His brother.

Big Guy entered the picture because the coach wanted enough extra players to create a respectable scrimmage for the 4- and 5-year-olds. She didn’t have to ask him twice. He scampered onto the court and ran straight for where Boots was dribbling the ball with all the speed of a stampeding snail. It wasn’t hard for Big Guy to change that.

Boots  became red-faced with rage. “Mom-meeeeeeeeeeeeeee!” he shrieked. “He tooked the ball from me. He tooked the ball.”

“So take it back,” I shrugged.

He took me literally, shoving Big Guy in the back and picking up the ball. Big Guy retaliated, and Coach Mom stepped in.

“No, Boots, you don’t take the ball that way,” I said. “You have to kick it away from him. You can’t use your hands, and you definitely can’t shove. I know it’s hard, but you’ll learn.”

Big Guy grinned until I turned to him. “You know better than to shove. Remember that you’re not on this team and you’re playing only because the coach is being nice. If you two keep fighting, she’s not going to let you.”

Big Guy went off to harass a kid closer to his skill level, playing the 5-year-old close without shoving even though the younger player applied a few thumps to Big Guy’s back. “It’s OK. He’s just a little kid. He doesn’t understand.” I wondered why his brother didn’t get that same dispensation.

As for Boots, he managed to keep upright and mobile after that, kicking the ball several times. It didn’t land in the goal, but at least it was in the same time zone.

I wonder if I can convince a member of the other team to wear a Big Guy mask for Saturday’s game.

Copyright 2010 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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