Presents From the Past

Funny, how we get a second try at things in life.

I used to play soccer. It was a huge part of my life growing up. Great friendships, lots of championships, all before I was in high school.

Then puberty hit, for everyone else, not for me, and the game changed. It became less about finesse and ball control and more about power and stamina. My coach made the joke that he wanted to water my feet. I never laughed because I heard this to mean I was useless to him the way I was. I sat on the bench for the first time in my life.

I never watered my feet. Instead, I quit the team and left the sport. I grew up and got big and fast, but not until college, really.

And now, I see this same thing happening with my daughter, in her sport, where flexibility is giving way to power. She’s long and skinny like I was, her feet flare out to the sides when she runs just like mine did.

Sitting there watching her do her thing at her show, I was reminded of how the coach took me aside after one practice. He meant well. He tried to teach me how to run, hoping I’d cut off a few seconds in my 100-meter sprint. But it didn’t work. I remember the disappointment in my coach’s face upon realizing that I was just slow. That disappointment weighed on me, even though it wasn’t in words.

So here I am again, watching this scene play out, my daughter’s friends growing width-wise faster than she, the physical game taking precedent, as it does.

I don’t want to live through her. I’m careful of that. That’s not the point. But I believe, I may know better than anyone else right now how she feels in her body, or how she may feel when people ask her body to do things it can’t do yet.

I know that great training, great advice, and great jokes may not work; they may be swords instead of shields. I’m not sure what that leaves us in terms of a game plan, but I think I’ll know when the time comes.

The past has given me that.