Green and silver cleats, lime green soccer ball, a jersey, and lots of electrolytes. The heat for his first game was unbearable: 92 degrees and no shade. Just that beautiful green field, a miniature version of the real deal. Boys his age, bigger and taller, running in a group after each kick of the ball. Parents huddled by the sides with lawn chairs, umbrellas, the assuming cool drink, and eyes glued to their child. And watching my son race, zoom, and fly with speed up-and-down the soccer field. Watching him listen to his coach. Watching him take a break because he was thirsty. And then watching him shake other boys sweaty hands and the end of the game.
And, I am one of those parents.
And, my son is a soccer player.
I’m glued to the field, anxious when my son takes a break from playing, excited when he kicks the ball, and joyous when a goal is scored. I’m also teary-eyed and overwhelmed because I never thought my son would play on a team with other boys. There have been moments when I’ve convinced myself that his after-school activities will be either with the OT or Child Psychologist. That night-time routines would always be filled with rolling on the floor and squealing. I was convinced.
But, I was wrong.
And it hurts so good to watch him play a team sport. It hurts so good to watch him keep it together for two hours with his new team-mates and then fall to pieces when he gets home. It hurts so good to listen to him cry from exhaustion, from his jersey being stuck to his body, from not wanting to take shower because he likes how he smells. It hurts so good to watch him grow into himself.
And so, I hold sacred this small triumph for my son. These are the things that I’ll remember when the days of therapy and doctor appointments are endless. I’ll remember the green field, the sweaty palms of 8 year-old boys, of gatorade dripping from the mouth. I’ll remember the excitement and the certainty that being part of something else – a team – truly brings joy to my son.
And, so, even though it sometimes hurts so good, I’m thankful.