Last night we (hubby, me, The Amazing Benjabean, and Princess McGilla, that's here there, smiling at you, decked out in full princess gear) marched to the park to witness the clash of the wee little titans. Heather (our daughter, better known as Princess McGilla, for reasons that are too silly to go into), age 5 was joining her team, The Lynx, in facing off against another team of 5 year olds (don't know their names, but they had lovely red jerseys and fell down a lot).
Hubby and I set up our chairs, kissed our daughter, fortifying her for the big battle ahead. She raised her trembling chin, put on a brave face, grabbed a ball and headed for the field. Ben ran off to a nearby playground.
The game began! The children were off like a herd of turtles! On the red team a smaller child began crying for reasons that have yet to be determined. Another child kicked at the ball, missed and fell down. On our team, tall (relatively speaking) blond girl ran rough shod over everyone, even her own team mates. In response, a boy on our team began rolling around on the grass and throwing it in the air. A second boy, realizing he had a captive audience in the adults lining the field, broke into a dance routine that ended with a fantastic display of jazz hands. The only two children who remembered they were there to play soccer scored goal after goal, running up and down the field breathless and flushed.
The coaches, young, seemingly healthy young men, were helpless in the face of so much juvenile shenanigans.What to do?
Hubby and I looked at each other and smiled. And then we started cheering for the kids.
Anytime a child, ANY child made contact with the ball we hollered our joy. When someone kicked the ball in the general direction of the goal we stomped out feet, clapped our hands and shouted, "Good job! Way to go!"
The other parents seemed dazed. Bewildered. Then, slowly, a few of them began to cheer as well. The response was amazing. Children began waving from the field, bowing shyly, and one or two blew kisses. We cheered louder. I would have thrown roses if I'd had some.
Suddenly the whole place was lit up with cheering. With parents who were shouting out their love to their children. The children started running faster, not necessarily in the right direction, but still. . .
The boy who had been picking grass was now grabbing great handfuls of it and throwing it in the air, a make-shift ticker tape parade. The boy who had been dancing was now doing an impressive soft shoe quite near the ball (at one point I shouted out to him, "Jaben! You are wonderful, but you are employing the wrong skill set. He smiled and blew me a kiss).
And my daughter? My lovely, sweet faced cherub? She ran harder, faster, and longer than anyone out there. She kicked the ball, scored a goal, kicked the shins of another child, ran in the wrong direction, and bonked heads with a team mate.
And when the game was over she was smiling.We were all smiling. Kids, parents, exasperated coaches. All smiling. We had just had a wonderful time. Kids were hugged, water was guzzled, atta-boys abounded.
Who can you cheer for today?