My 9 year old son Gecko plays on a premier soccer club team. He is one of the youngest and most developing kids on the U10 (boys born in ’02 & ‘03) team. He is also one of the smaller kids, though surprisingly not the smallest. But he is built for soccer. He is fast, agile, and aggressive and for the most part he holds his own.
For some reason though, he doesn’t shoot for goals. He plays forward or midfielder and he does great getting the ball and moving it, but when he gets close he just doesn’t take the shot. I chalk this up to focus (too focused on controlling the ball to plan for a strike and not focused enough on where exactly he is and what the goal opportunities look like ahead of him) and perhaps even a bit of uncoordinated motor planning (the switch from controlling it to actually shooting it).
I am not some crazed soccer mom who lives and dies for her kid to be the best, to be the star but I know that for his sake he needs to take that next step and start taking goal shots. I have been subtly mentioning it to him and when it comes up he tells me he prefers defense. And so I leave it alone hoping that by the end of this first year he develops to the point where he wants it.
Last Sunday when I did a little birthday shopping for myself at the Pandora store, he was with me. He goes there often with his dad to pick out my special occasion gifts and he enjoys looking at and picking out the beads he thinks I might like. As we were eying the lovely baubles in the glass cases, he said, "Mom, don’t you have a football? Maybe they have a soccer ball."
The sales lady was quick to tell us there is a soccer ball bead and to pull out the tray that it sits on. I smiled at Gecko, "I do have a football bead. And when you score your first goal, I will buy that beautiful soccer ball bead to celebrate it." He smiled right back at me and said, "Ok mom."
On Wednesday (the very next practice) the boys played against themselves, and lo and behold, Gecko scored not one but two goals. The minute he got home he yelled to me, "Guess what mom? We can go back to Pandora now." I was very excited for him and proud of him.
But later that night I wondered about it. When your children are really little, you know them so well. You know what each of their cries means, you know everywhere they go, everyone they see, all the things they care about... but then they begin to grow up and away from you. They have crushes you don’t know about, thoughts they don’t share, friends and enemies at school you don’t know. They have fears and desires that you are not privy to. Was it a coincidence that he scored those goals the very next time he was on the field? Or is he that motivated to please me/make me proud? Is that a good thing? Was it to show that he loves me or does it mean he feels like he needs to measure up?
Today he came home late from his game. He walked into the kitchen with a little Pandora bag in his hand and a wide grin. As he handed it to me he excitedly told me that he took a goal shot during the game but "the goalie just barely got it!"
That little silver and enamel soccer ball charm on my bracelet means a lot to me. While it won’t give up the secret of why he wanted it so bad, it reminds me that my boy is superstar to me.
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