“Do I look tougher?”: Blood … and Tears … on the Field

My son is not particularly tough. I love him to pieces. He’s just not one of those kids, though, that engages in physical activity with no eye to personal safety. He has always been cautious (thank goodness!) And though he has played soccer now for six of his ten and a half years on this planet, he still has a tendency to be non-assertive on the playing field.

Well, maybe the word “still” is misplaced. Apparently, he’s changing.

Last Saturday’s game (which I did not attend but heard all about when my husband and son got home) is a case in point. Apparently, some kid on the other team had the ball and was outstripping everyone. My son went after the ball, but from the sidelines it looked like he just decided the best way to stop the kid was to take his legs out from under him.

Funny thing is that my husband says that everyone on the sidelines had just been yelling, “STOP HIM!!” And right after that he tripped the kid.

Now, I know better than to think that he heard anything that the crowd was yelling. That kid tunes out everything except his teammates and coach when playing ball. He never hears “helpful advice” from the sidelines. So it’s just coincidence not cause and effect.

I also know better than to think he was actually trying to trip the poor kid. In fact, he was trying to reach the ball to steal it. After the ref blew the whistle and called a foul, my son turned to the kid and asked if he was okay. He hates the thought of actually hurting someone — which is a big reason why this big kid of mine (5’1″ at ten years old) often just reaches out a foot instead of using his whole body. But at least these days he waits to succor the enemy until after the ref stops the play.

The thing that I see here is that he is starting to get more assertive. He went after the ball. He got close enough to cause a collision. He laughed (later) about getting a foul. (That’s actually desirable in a sensitive kid like that.)

He’s also getting in there with the under 12 team, where he practices once a week with his old coach. His official team is the under 10’s (he started the year as a nine year old). He is about a foot taller than almost everyone on his team. But with the U12 team, he’s more evenly matched in height and weight. Those kids are a lot more assertive, though. And it’s been interesting to watch him practicing with these older kids. Clearly, it’s also helped him to get into the fray with his body a bit more, too.

SO…last night was the weekly practice for U12. And I was watching him get in there with the older kids. He was doing okay — clearly still not entirely at ease, but holding his own. Then someone passed the ball to the kid next to him, who kicked it hard to my son. Wham, it hit him in the face and then headed straight for a teammate, who took the ball down for a goal. I thought at first that my son had inadvertently “headed” the ball, and I was thinking that maybe that would help him to start doing that manuever on purpose more. But NO!!

He starts walking off the field quickly, walking not running. And I see blood streaming down his face. Did you cut your lip or is it your nose? “My nose.” Tears welling in his eyes and blood everywhere. There I am looking in my purse for a tissue, and the coach says, “Ah, took one on the nose, eh?” And she slaps a red “penny” (those mesh shirts they wear when they divide into teams during practice) on his face. I love that woman. She is so much tougher than I am. And she is exactly the right influence on my son.

I finally took over holding his face and she went back to coaching. Eventually the blood stopped, but not before getting on his shirt and arms and face. I had just begun just wondering if I would now have a battle on my hands to force him to go back onto the field, when he surprised me.

“Do I look tougher?” I stepped back and saw him as with new eyes. Absolutely.

He ran back out on the field.

Later he took a shot to the eye, and he was a mess on the car ride home. But he handled everything so much better than he would have been able to in the past, even a few months ago. Once back home, he bragged about his war wounds to dad and then started singing in the shower.

My little tough guy.

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8 Responses

  1. A lot of that reminds me of myself, except for the “big” part. I’ve always been the “small kid”. I played soccer for 20+ years and I was the shy kid when I was younger and also remember being told to be more aggressive.

    Can also totally relate to the tears after getting hit in the face. Just thinking about it, I can feel the sting of the ball on my face.

    ““Do I look tougher?” I stepped back and saw him as with new eyes. Absolutely.”

    Awesome!

    Great post and your son sounds like a great kid.

  2. Ah, well you turned out alright! I guess I shouldn’t worry about my non-aggressive kid. After all, I really am GLAD that he is kind and caring and looks out for his safety. I’ve seen what other moms have to deal with — those daredevil kids. Eeghads!

  3. Go him! What a great memory to look back on later.

    I hope he’s all healed and ready to get back on the field! 🙂

  4. Oh, yeh! He’s ready to roll for the make-up game tonight. 🙂

  5. Oh, Di, try watching our new sport…wrestling…as your son’s arms are pulled behind him in ways that do not look natural and other mean boys slam your baby to the ground. Been quite a learning experience on how to be a “boy mom.” Makes me appreciate the man my son is becoming but it can be a tough lesson.

  6. Carrie,

    Yes, there’s a reason why he doesn’t play hockey here in the Northeast like most everyone else on his soccer team! If he doesn’t learn to skate, he can’t play hockey and get decapitated!! 🙂

    Seriously, though, I know what you mean. The boys will be men. We gotta help em get there.

    Thank you so much for stopping by, my friend. Hope all is well with you guys!

  7. I couldn’t let the day pass without sending my warm wishes to you today– Mother’s Day.

    To paraphrase a favorite quote, a mother is the only person who seeing there are only four pieces of pie for her five children, promptly announces she never did care for pie.

    God bless all mothers. Best regards from Manila.

  8. Thank you, my friend! I aspire to be such a mom, though I am not there yet! 🙂

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