As if we were unaware of his approach, his feet pretty much rumble the earth.
The 6-year-old and I panted with exertion and took a break from our soccer game to welcome back the one we like to call, Freight Train. The game started out fine and with all of us playing together, but it didn’t take long for the feisty 3-year-old to take offense to being reminded about not putting his hands on the ball and quickly retreat inside to complain to mommy.
We were both happy when he returned.
He’ll get it eventually, and until then I’ll continue to remind him of the rules, but nor can I ignore the fact that his life has been defined by scratching and clawing for his own in this world and using his hands achieves exactly that by somewhat leveling the playing field with his bigger, faster brother. An older brother who lived a life uncontested for 3 years, a life completely unfamiliar to our 3-year-old. But on the field, their worlds become one and the rules apply equally. It doesn’t matter if you were born first, second or third, hands are not allowed on the soccer ball unless you’re the keeper.
Okay, so Freight Train’s free rein with his hands seems to stem from his theory that he is in fact the “goalie” and is allowed to use his hands whether he’s in front of his own net or inches from the other. There is no reasoning with him, he’s the goalie and goalies can use their hands, especially when strategically placing the ball directly in front of his brother’s net and firing off point-blank shots at his sibling.
The situation never ends well and always ends the same — crying and screaming and a complete breakdown of rules and any fun we were having.
But the game never ends that way and always ends the same — we figure it out and keep playing and always have fun in the end.
The lesson here isn’t groundbreaking or one that hasn’t been taught before and it’s that there are many situations in life in which the set of rules that apply are not your own and yet still must be followed. My oldest son is a fierce competitor, he wants to beat the competition at whatever is being played and strategically sets his mind to exactly that. My youngest son is strong-willed, he knows nothing else besides going after what he wants with everything he’s made of, rationally or irrationally. But just as one can’t walk into their boss’s corner office and take it for their own (as much as they might like to), only the keeper is allowed to touch the soccer ball with their hands.
Sports are the perfect backdrop to teach my boys about life. For many of us, sports are a part of our everyday lives, culture and history. There is no doubt that sports play a role in my boys’ lives just as it did (and does) for my wife and I. In spring this all kicks into full-gear as outdoor sports generate that much more family activity time together. With two very different boys who tackle things in two very different ways, we use the sports setting and the rules contained within as an equalizer that will hopefully also teach them the ways of the world.
A world that we share with others and the rules we all must respect to help keep the chaos at bay.
Through sports my oldest knows he can’t get whatever he wants, and eventually, my youngest will know he can’t take whatever he wants. I hope they both always try their best to achieve what they’re after, but they also need to always be reminded about the rules and that they apply equally on the field (world) that they share with others.
Speaking of rules, “Great game, boys. Now, pick up all the balls, cones, and nets and put them neatly in the garage.”