Monday, October 5, 2015

A Different Kind of Soccer League.

Our son has played soccer since he was three years old.   Zane's an only child; team sports offered him an opportunity to acquire the socialization skills he needed.  Both of my brother's boys played soccer, and they seemed to enjoy it.  However, our reasoning at the time was one of self-preservation; our child was wearing us out.  Zane is in constant motion, and soccer offered him the opportunity to get some of that energy out of his system without warping the Time-Space Continuum.

Soccer at age three looks pretty much like a bunch of cats all chasing the same mouse; lots of running, and occasionally someone accidentally hits the ball.  Zane loved it, so we continued to sign him up with the same league. It didn't cost very much.  All the boys got along, and after playing together for so many years, they were becoming a well-oiled machine.  However, during the past year we started noticing that Zane's team was winning games 20-1, 18-0, etc.  That's pretty bad, even for a children's recreational soccer league.

Zane wasn't interested in learning anything new; he just wanted to play the same kind of soccer he'd always played.  He scored so many goals that he seemed a bit cocky, and he started to mentally wander off during games. Zane knows how much I love to watch him play, especially during the past year, but it didn't seem to matter.  He was in a rut.  Larry and I have learned from experience that when Zane's behavior deteriorates, it means that things are too easy for him. If it was too easy, it wasn't interesting.  It was time for us to try something different.  The boy needed a challenge.

Time to move on to what is known as "competitive" soccer. The big leagues. 

The cost to play went up, of course.  But I've come to realize that when it comes to children's sports, you get what you pay for.  Where we had been playing on what had been a parking lot with scraggly bits of grass growing over it, now there are thick fields of grass, carefully tended and cared for.  And  Zane received two practice jerseys in addition to his game kit.  He now has a coach who is paid, who writes up lesson plans before every practice, and who is an extremely patient young man to take on a group of seven year olds.  A group of seven year olds who were all used to being the star, the ones who scored all the goals for their team, the ones whose parents felt that their boys needed a challenge.

Zane is now learning to pay attention, because if he doesn't, he gets to do toe touches.  He has met an entirely new group of kids, and his natural extrovert has come out.  Zane is learning new skills faster than I ever thought he would.   I can already see my son's skills blossoming.  Anything worth doing is worth doing well, but the main thing I want for my son is that he love what he does.  You can see it in his face every time he is out on the field; he is having fun.

And that is worth everything. 

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Gourmand on Chemo

"How's that chicken lasagna?  My culinary masterpiece!"  Gerald exclaimed proudly

Yum...dessicated balsa, mashed into pulp, chewed by an irritated beaver, then passed through the digestive tract of an entire colony of suicidal brain lamented, but I smiled. 

"It's delicious!"

Monday, September 28, 2015

Sometimes the Crazy Comes Out

It was Friday, and we were at the soccer field.  It was game time for Zane's team, who were running their hearts out.  My mother and father were sitting with me, while Larry, the team manager, was on the other side of the field with Zane.  The nearby airport was bustling with Friday travelers heading for other cities, and next door at the stadium, high school students were preparing for Friday Night Football. 

I had one eye on the sky.  Thunderstorms were in the forecast, and the sky to the west was darkening.  The Weather Bug app has a nifty little tool that lets you know how close lightning is to your location, but any good sporting venue will have a system in place, because lightning can hurt or kill.  Everyone takes it seriously, especially when kids are involved.

My son has a thing about tornadoes.  He's never been in one, and the only ones he's seen have been on television.  Zane knows that tornadoes happen during thunderstorms, but he wasn't paying attention to anything but the game, for which I was grateful.  He gets his anxiety from me, I'm sorry to say. I have been anxious my entire life. My anxiety has been extreme this year, with panic attacks, insomnia, and lots of hyperventilating.  It's not pretty.  Sometimes the crazy comes out. 

When Zane starts hyperfocusing on the weather, it's bad for both of us.  His anxiety is my anxiety.  For every millisecond that he is wringing his hands, crying, or just sitting there frozen in fear, I am feeling the same.  I want to grab him and run screaming from whatever it is that is causing him any panic.  I think that most parents want to protect their little ones, but not many have an anxiety disorder on top of the normal parent feelings. 

But here's the difference: I cannot let Zane see my crazy when his crazy comes out.  Kids take their cue from their parents.  My parents were always calm during emergencies when I was growing up; as long as they were calm, I was calm.  As anxious as I am,  therefore, I can't show it.  I have to appear calm, ready to handle anything.  My child deserves nothing less.

The lightning alarm went off, as expected.  Zane froze, not understanding what the alarm meant.  He thought it meant that there was a tornado, and he lost it.  He barely managed to quickly shake hands with the opposing team.  While all the adults were scattering, trying to move all of the children safely off of the soccer field, Zane ran to me, crying. 

"Hey!" I said firmly. "When I freak out, THEN you can freak out! Do you see me freaking out?"

I put on the calm face, talked to him in the moderate voice.  He bought it.  He took my hand and we walked to the car, one of the safest places to be in the event of lightning.  Zane talked about tornadoes; I pointed out that if there had been a tornado, he would have been able to see and hear it coming.  This was a good point; Zane wanted to know what tornadoes sounded like.  We waited calmly for Larry.

Then Zane remembered that he left his backpack on the field.  I let Daddy handle that one.