Wednesday, August 15

Spaghetti Legs

Big 5 is a right of passage as a kid. The day is completely etched into my memory. I can see my Big 5 store on the corner of Wilshire Blvd. and, I dunno, somewhere around 20th Street and my brother and I walking around with my mom collecting shin guards, soccer cleats and socks every single August for the start of AYSO.

I played soccer from the time I was tiny and played as a passion for years and years. My brother went onto play NCAA soccer at Cornell. Every single Saturday was soccer day and most Thursday nights, cold for L.A. standards, we'd huddle in practice drills at Will Rogers Park.

I stood in a surreal moment today at the counter of Big 5 paying for Thing 1's first ever soccer cleats, a shiny #3 ball and shin guards so tall that they went over his knee. He carried the bag out of the store -- Big 5 bags are always bigger than your gear -- dragging it all the way to the car. He had his cleats on before we got out of the parking lot and screaming "Gooooooooooaaaaal!!!!!!!" by the time I got him to his first ever soccer practice today.

My kid wobbled and bobbled around the field, the ball dribbling him, it seemed. He's speedy enough alright, just like I was. I could see his face flushed, concentrating so hard on that dang ball and loving every minute of freedom to fly and bump and roll on the grass that he could muster. In the end I asked him his coach's name. He bluntly told me, "Coach." It made me smile remembering that I still call my first soccer coach (Dick Earnest, my pal Eric's dad) "Coach" to this day and that moment for me was 30 years ago.

I think Thing 1 is gonna love soccer. Not nearly as much as I love watching my passion for it through him.