Sunday, October 24, 2010

Bend it like Beckham . . . or not.

Some friends and I were enjoying our weekly breakfast at one of our local “home cooking” establishments when a small boy, about two years old ran past our table. A young father cut him off before he could make a lap around the entire restaurant. Most of us sitting at the table, young fathers’ ourselves, could understand his challenge and in an effort to comfort the father, one of our group said, “At least he’s fast!”

The father responded, “I just want him to be good at something.”

We all laughed, but at the same time, we all understood. As a father, you simply want your children to be really good at something. Unfortunately, the law of averages suggests that most people are simply . . . well . . . average at most things. But that doesn’t stop us from searching. While we all might be average at most things, ultimately, we are all good at something. So we help our children search to find that thing they are good at.

Our family search recently landed on soccer. We signed my four year old up to play in a local soccer league. He was excited about the opportunity to run and kick, but a little unclear about the fundamentals of the game. The following events sum up his soccer experience.

After scoring his first goal of the game (in the right goal), the coach had placed our son in a defensive position, directly between the other team and the goal. He was excited about this opportunity; however, as the other team brought the ball down the field, our son was distracted by something on his hand. A girl who had an early growth spurt, was quickly approaching, controlling the ball like a seasoned professional, the only thing that could prevent her from scoring was our son. Unfortunately, despite the rising cheers from the parents in the stands, my son stayed focused on his hand and whatever sticky/dirty/gooey/bug had found itself there.

Initially, I thought this was the opportunity for my son to become the breakout soccer star I believed he could be. This was his opportunity to be “good” at something. However, as this girl with the soccer ball down bore down on his position on the field, I began to fear for his safety as the impact with a child twice his side would have been devastating (especially when he never saw it coming). Nonetheless, my son never glanced up and never moved. At the last moment, the girl shifted slightly and blew right by my son, within inches of running him over and scored a goal. Whatever was on my son’s hand must have been really cool, because as she sliced past him, he never flinched. It wasn’t till the cheers of the crowd erupted that he knew something was up and in response; he raised his hands as if he just scored the winning goal. I couldn’t help but laugh and celebrate with him.

When he got to the sideline, I asked him, “What’s on your hand?”

He simply said, “There is nothing on my hand, Daddy!”

Of course there wasn’t, why would I think there was anything on his hand?

So, he won’t bend it like Beckham just yet. But as a father, I need not fear, ALL children are good at something and my son, and the child in the restaurant, will find their something . . . even if it is running laps in a restaurant or finding cool dirt on your hands.

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