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Thursday, February 28, 2008

Guess what! Aiden can really play soccer! He kicks the ball where itís supposed to go, runs in the right direction, and is coordinated enough to stop the ball without tripping over it. Heís quite cheerful about it all, too. At his practice today I never saw him try to upstage any of the other kids, which is good for a child that young in a sport that depends on teamwork more than most. For once in his life, the superstar of the family was content not to be the center of attention.

This seems to have been a positive experience for him. Heís learned a lot and flourished in an environment where he steps out of his comfort zone and tries new things. This is just the beginning of whatever role heís going to find for himself in the wider world, and despite a minor setback at the end of practice today (which might have more to do with the fact that heís just getting over a cold than anything else) he seems more than ready to take on whatever comes his way.

At his level, they havenít played any actual competitive games yet. Wait till he finds out they get orange slices!

Not surprisingly, Kylie was in the thick of it all. She did all the warm-up exercises and ran back and forth with the other kids, all of whom were at least a year or two older than she is. Her legs are a little shorter, so when they were kicking the balls up and down the field, she would sometimes lag a little behind. She compensated by picking up the ball and running to catch up, which I thought was kind of an ingenious compromise for a two and a half-year-old.

28 February 2008

I asked Aiden if I could take his picture playing soccer. "Yes," he told me. "Cameras are allowed."

About halfway through practice, Aiden needed a potty break, and when he got back to the (indoor) field, he was dismayed to find out they were in the middle of another exercise. He was a little put out that they hadnít waited for him, I guess. He loudly announced that he was done with soccer, and to make his point he stood in the middle of the field with his arms folded. ďI hate soccer,Ē he said. ďIt stinks.Ē

He was given several opportunities to change his mind. He was then given the choice of going back on the field or going home. He wanted to stay and watch, he said. That wasnít one of the options, so practice was cut a little short today. Some days are like that, especially when youíre three and a half. A kid can only perform on cue for so long before he reaches a breaking point.

Heís done well at other practices, even when he wasnít feeling well, so this was just a minor glitch in a pretty broad spectrum of upbeat experiences. Itís just too bad it was the first time I had a chance to watch him play soccer (and the last practice of the year).

Iíve seen enough soccer games to know that the players can be kind of temperamental. Iíve watched them throw themselves on the ground and writhe around for no apparent reason. Sometimes they will gesticulate wildly and whine at the referee, then stomp around kicking the air. And these are professionals! Aiden isnít even four yet, and his meltdown today wasnít nearly as dramatic. Way funnier, though (although he wouldnít want me to tell you that).

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