sesame bagel, good cold water

I break my toenail
playing soccer with my son,
why'd I wear sandals?

I don't think Sammy is going to be the great soccer player in the family. When he's on the field for the Magic Wildcats, there are five kindergartners chasing the ball and one hanging back waiting to see what happens. When his coaches (one male one female, this is Madison Wisconsin after all) do the "Fishers and the Fish" game, he's not a fish running from one side to the other; he yells "I'm a shark!" and runs in strange patterns. He's scored one goal this year: for the other team. He was so embarrassed about this that he told everyone except me, and said "Please don't tell Dad!" like I'm the Great Santini Soccer Nazi Dad or something.

The tall rain-fed grass
slows down the white ball's progress--
then it's kicked again

But when we play outside, just us, one on one, he's got amazing skills for a little guy. He's comfortable with both feet, he's got good control dribbling, he uses his advantages (agility, sneakiness) to great advantage. Sure, I'm not playing 100%, but he punched a couple of balls past me yesterday, surprised the hell out of me. When he scores, he does a whole TV-learned "Yes!" with mandatory arm-pump that cracks me up. Then I'll boot it past him, but right at the big maple tree, bounces off, no goal, and here he comes again.

One quick sideways tap,
almost not a kick at all,
like a ghost did it

My greatest pleasure is playing with Sammy, but often I'm distracted by his changing the rules during board games, or his breathlessly describing some story about warriors / boxers / Star Wars guys he's invented and made out of Legos. Granted, it's hard to pay attention every single minute, but why I cut myself off mentally/emotionally ever at all from all this is a huge mystery to me. Where do I go, during these times? What is this blizzard in which I'm lost? Is this why he gets so easily discouraged, so quick to blame himself and take offense and give up? Am I, and my Brechtian detachment, to blame? Is my son a V-Effekt casualty?

Soccer ball kicked hard
winds up under bushes where
I get myself scratched

I don't really think, ultimately, that it's all that dramatic. He still greets me with hugs, he understands limits more each week, he's not THAT badly off. And he's getting more into the idea of actually playing with other kids, relating to his peers, not expecting me to be his main playmate. (About time, too: he's almost six!) I guess I'm just seeing the time when I'm the most fun person to play with coming to an end, and feeling a little sad. Still, I wish he'd score this week. For his own team. In the right goal.

It's time for dinner:
grab the ball and head inside.
The sun is setting.

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