All in the feet
by little red pen
The Cat’s world revolves around soccer at the moment. He takes his ball to school every day; on the way home I get a play-by-play account of the pre-school, morning tea and lunchtime matches. I have to employ all my wiles to get him off the pitch after school, and it all ends in tears more often than not. He’s been reading up on the World Cup, and regales me with facts and statistics all day, every day. He watches as many matches as he can, tips like a pro, analyses each performance. He takes his ball to bed, to dinner, around the house. It drives me a bit batty, if I’m honest, and more so when he insists on using his feet for everything — moving toys, putting clothes away, mopping the bathroom floor. If I ask him to use his hands, he looks at me as though I’ve suggested it would be handy if he grew a pair of wings.
So, I remember the good it is doing him. He is learning to handle losing and winning and missing the goal. He’s thinking about passing the ball, where his team-mates are, where he is. He’s getting fitter, more co-ordinated, stronger. His hair grows shaggier every day, and it suits him. He runs training sessions with the Rabbit every afternoon. They work in the hallway, do penalty shootouts and fitness work, practice heading and saving goals. He is mostly a generous and creative coach, and he’s only taken his brother out with a too-hard ball a couple of times.
It bewilders me a little, this love of the beautiful game. I knew what to do when his obsessions were birds and bus routes — we had outings and books and maps and timetables and games — although I couldn’t do much more than ride dinosaurs out. Geography made sense to me, and I learnt a lot. But I’ve never liked team sport; as a child I preferred walking and skating and, well, reading. So soccer caught me by surprise; it took me a while to realise how deep his commitment ran. I’m on it now though. I kick the ball to him, race when he snaps it past me. I find books and whoop when the team scores. I’m helping him make a board game. One day, I’ll bring oranges to the Saturday morning match.
My boy is revelling in something I don’t know, and I’m trying to keep up.