The eldest has been playing football -- that's soccer to us Americans -- for a number of years. He is now 10, very soon to be 11. He is playing this year with some very, very big boys. Boys who have already hit puberty. Boys with facial hair.
Eldest is not the smallest on his team. There is one boy who is smaller than him. That does not provide eldest much comfort. His stature is of great concern to him, and not just with regard to soccer. When I point out boys in his grade who are smaller than him, he feels a little better. It is only a matter of time, however, before he realizes that nearly all of those smaller than him are Asian.
So, soccer. It is his dad's game, of course, and he initially played soccer and stayed with it even when he wasn't very good because it was his dad's game. He wants his dad to be proud of him. He looks to me for approval on nearly all things he does...except soccer. For soccer, he only cares what his dad thinks.
The past two years, eldest has come into his own with regards to soccer. He tries hard. He is (almost) fearless. He runs. He fights for the ball. He plays hard. And you can nearly always see him seek out his dad whenever he does something particularly good. Or even particularly bad.
And Pete is proud of eldest. He doesn't think eldest will ever be a super soccer star, but he thinks eldest is doing his best. Sadly, this year, eldest's team is in last place. Dead last place. They played 12 games, winning only the first one. Most of the games were excruciatingly close, with eldest's team losing by a mere goal. But losing nonetheless.
Welcome to the age of everyone is a winner. They have a tournament at the end of the season. Many like to call it "play-offs," but I correct them every time. "Play-offs" indicate some level of achievement for the teams playing in them. Since all the teams play -- even the worst ones -- it's a tournament. [I'm quite annoying about this clarification. Or at least other people clearly find me such.]
One game on Saturday. One game on Sunday. Eldest scored two goals Saturday, and his team won 3-1. On Sunday, eldest had one assist, and his team won 2-1. What does this mean, besides having to spend eldest's birthday next Saturday playing another game? It means that if his team wins on Saturday, they end up in the championship game on Sunday. They could end up with trophies in addition to the trophies everyone gets nowadays just for playing.
If Pele were dead, he'd be rolling over in his grave right now.