October 19, 2015

My favorite piece of land on earth

I grew up on the soccer field, but that was before digital cameras, blogging, social media, or even that whole scrapbooking craze. My parents have a few home videos, and somewhere they've saved newspaper clippings of me, frozen in black ink, legs pumping, face full of concentration, ponytail flying in the Michigan breeze. But most of the hours and hours and hours of time I spent on the soccer field are sealed inside my heart; grass-stained memories that I hold as dear as any memories I've got.

When we were looking at our furlough time it became clear that if we signed the kids up for soccer, there would be little time for much else. Daniel hesitated, looking at the cost of outfitting eight feet and eight shins for a sport the kids can't really pursue back home in Asia. This would only be a one-time deal, and would consume our fall. Was it worth it?

With pleading eyes that quickly brimmed with tears, I asked my husband to let me have this one thing. This one fleeting moment in time to be a soccer mom. We have given up so much to live overseas, I said. The kids don't miss soccer, I know, but that is because they don't know what they are missing. And I do miss it.

There was a time in my growing up years when everything around me was chaotic, and nothing and no one could be counted on with absolute certainty. Except on the soccer field. There was a set time of play. There were clear boundaries. There was a ball and a net. There were opponents easily distinguishable in even the most confounded moments of play. And best of all, I was free to run. Run and run and run, and when the coach pulled me out to give me a rest, I begged him to put me back in as soon as possible. That rectangle of grass and paint was my favorite piece of land on earth.

How could my husband resist a sob story like that? In the end, he couldn't, and so we have been a soccer family this fall, juggling 4 practices a week and 3-4 games every weekend. Have our little soccer players loved it? You betcha. Have they learned oodles about teamwork, failure, losing well, winning well, not taking things personally, pushing themselves past the point of weariness, getting up off the ground quickly, and shaking off the pain? You BETCHA. Are they superstars? Nope. But boy oh boy how delightful they have been to watch.
Most boys in Arkansas play football. Soccer is new to the area. 

Coach Jose telling Gene he did a good job.

Gene waving to his fans.

Sister and brother on the same team. Jubilee, the team's only girl, and Brave, her protector. Though I'll tell you, she can take a ball to the ribs with the best of them.

Brave the powerhouse mid-fielder.

Have you ever seen anything cuter in your life? I haven't.

Momo on the sidelines at every game.

Daniel sporting Pointer Green at his old stomping ground.

I'm a little excited. And I have my overalls on again! Can you tell I love my 90's GAP overalls?


Gene's team party. What a pack of kids.

Gene with his buddies, Jaciel and Davin.

Little brothers watching Gene play at the stadium.

So many wonderful times.