It’s amazing the connections you can find with people once you start an open, honest conversation. Our son Theo has started playing soccer on Saturdays, and though I love the fact that he is out running around learning a sport with a team of kids, I don’t always enjoy sitting in the heat of the afternoon inhaling Astroturf fumes while the kids do their warm ups. This was what I was thinking today when one of his teammate’s mother, Krissy greeted me with a big smile. I was feeling cranky about the heat and wasn’t able to hide it when she asked how I was doing. We started talking about how every year the heat in September takes us by surprise and then we fell into a conversation about living in cooler climes. When I told her I’d been brought up in Scotland and then Canada so was used to the cold, she sympathized with my low heat tolerance, but it was when I told her I’d also lived in Japan that we really connected.
Our son Theo played in his first ever game of soccer this afternoon, a very sweaty experience in a heat wave on Astroturf. Mercifully, the day was strangely cloudy and humid, bringing the temperature down to the upper 80s, so the coaches, parents and kids were somewhat relieved. For much of the game, Theo and the other boys who were playing for the first time seemed unsure if where to put themselves, and just ran around generally close to where the ball was doing their best to stop the other team, who seemed much more experienced, from making every goal they attempted. The final score was brutal, but nobody pretended our team hadn’t lost, as they often do in kids’ sports. Usually, there’s no official scorekeeping and all the players get trophies at the end. The boys took their loss well and realized they have a lot of work to do for their next games.
Today, our son Theo tried out for AYSO (American Youth Soccer Organization) soccer (football, dammit, for my non-American readers!). This came as a bit of a surprise. After years of claiming soccer was his favorite sport yet refusing to join local soccer teams and opting for baseball instead, he suddenly wanted to play the beautiful game. Perhaps it was because one of his coaches in sports camp a couple of weeks ago told him he was surprisingly good at soccer for someone who doesn’t play. As many of us well know, a single compliment from someone we barely know can be a powerful thing. A week or so ago, I was talking with the father of one of his friends, who happens to be one of the local AYSO coaches. When he told me the tryouts were this weekend, I asked Theo if he’d be up for it, and he said, “Yeh, sure” with a relatively enthusiastic tone in his voice. So, today we headed for the tryouts at the grounds of the local middle school.