It's a cold autumn day. I'm six years old. I'm standing in the middle of a big field. I have no idea what is going on around me. I've got these horrible things shoved into my socks, and all I want to do is rip them out and have some hot chocolate. All of the sudden, a black and white ball comes toward me and the next thing I know a group of kids is surrounding me and we are all kicking blindly at the ball.
That pretty much sums up my experience with soccer. I have no idea how I ended up at that practice, but I do know that I never went back. Things didn't improve after I met Andy. His general opinion of soccer is that it's like hockey, just without anything interesting ever happening.
So, imagine my surprise last week when I heard Andy and Michael discussing soccer practice. We had already decided to sign Michael up for karate and I wasn't expecting any additional sports to get added to my list. But, as they talked, it became clear that Michael wanted to give it a try. For $35 dollars I decided that it was worth a try.
Soccer started on Saturday, and karate started last night. On Thursday I picked up some sweats for Michael and Friday night we picked up shin guards and cleats for Michael. Saturday morning we got him all dressed up and drove over to the practice field. Michael recognized a girl from school and ran around the field with a bunch of the kids. So far, so good.
The coach came out and gave a quick overview of the program and the schedule and then she started roll call. When she called the names, the kids were supposed to run out and join the crowd in the middle of the field. And they did, until she called Michael. Instead of running out, he just grabbed my leg and cried when I encouraged him to go out and play. While the coach continued calling names and kids kept running out, Michael cried and cried. Andy pulled him aside, gave him a pep talk, and finally got Michael to join the other kids.
For the next half hour we were treated to the joy of watching little kids kick their shoes off, wipe-out on wet grass , and completely miss kicking balls that are larger than their heads. Michael was running and smiling the whole time.
After half an hour, the coach sent Michael's group back to the parents for a short break. Michael had some water and then refused to go back out. We gently prodded him to return to the game. He cried. We told him we were going to leave if he didn't go back out. He freaked out. We started throwing out all kinds of stuff, and it all failed. Andy finally had to walk away while I slowly moved him over to the sideline. His coach came over and called him in. It took a few more minutes and a discussion about tummy butterflies, but he finally went back in and played for another half hour. All smiles, of course.
I expect a replay next Saturday, but I'll be damned if I'm going to let him quit after only one practice.
As you can guess, I was a little nervous about how karate was going to go last night. Andy and I decided that it would be better if I did not go, since it's my leg he seems so fond of. So, while Andy was taking Michael into another completely new situation that could easily lead to a major melt down, I went and got my hair done. I clearly got the better deal.
I was relaxing when they got home. Michael had a huge smile on his face and he rushed in and showed me how to punch. He was so excited as he talked a mile a minute about how cool it was and one of the kids from his class was there and...and...and!
Wow, what a difference. After Michael went to bed, I asked Andy how it really went, and he confirmed that it went really well. He even had some pictures and video for me. Michael loved it. I'm not sure if it was because he liked the organization and discipline, the actual karate, or being allowed to run around his gym in bare feet, but whatever it was, it seemed to work. He even asked me this morning if he could go again tonight!
For now, we'll keep up both activities. Even if Michael doesn't care about soccer, there is still a lot to be gained by going back out there and giving it another try. As for karate, I wouldn't be surprised if he wants to keep it up after the six week class wraps up. Only time will tell.