Thumbs up

I am that parent.  You know the one.  The one that is just a little too loud as they cheer on their kid.  The one that goes a little over board.  The one that you are pretty sure will end up arguing with the refs by the end of the game.  I am that parent.

Toby recently started playing soccer.  As an avid sports fan I am beyond excited to see what the little man can do.  I want him to be the next Messi, Pele, you know the one name players, Toby. That’s what I want.  I want him to take off down the field on a fast break and kick a game winning goal.  To have everyone cheer as streaks down into the box and drops a perfect header past the goalie.  That’s what I want.  I want him to be one of the best.

First game of the season,  I was disappointed.  Toby quit on his team.  He refused to go back into the game.  He was nervous and scared.  No matter how much anyone tried to coax him back into the game, he simply did not want to go.  There was a huge factor in him not wanting to go back in.  Me.  I was temporary coach.  The coach for the first week couldn’t make it.  So I volunteered.  It was a disaster for Toby.  What I wanted was to coach Toby on the field and see him be one of the best.  The thing is, that’s not what Toby wanted.  I think it was too much.  Too much pressure on him to do well with me right on the field.  The first time he has ever played an organized sport.  A game that is more than just being silly.  Dad as coach, was not what he wanted.

I knew that Toby quitting was probably because of me, but I didn’t want quitting to become a habit.  The rest of the week I would take time to remind Toby not to quit on his team.  To not give up.  To not be scared or nervous.  To be brave. He made it through the next practice.  He didn’t quit.  He listened to the coach.  Even though he was on the ground more than he was running, he kept getting up and playing.  This week’s game was more of the same.  Running, laughing, falling and getting back up.  The coach would tell him were to go and he listened.  I cheered from the sidelines.  Loudly.

Throughout the game Toby would give me random thumbs up.  I would flash him one back.  It’s like a secret signal developed between us.  His little signal that he hadn’t given up.  That he was ok.

Toby broke away from the pack.  He was virtually all alone and headed toward the goal.  He slowed down to make sure he controlled the ball.  He kept getting closer and closer to the goal.  I was yelling my head off.  Suddenly, a flash of gold came streaking down and stole the ball from him.  This little girl sprinting past and taking the ball.  I was devastated.  Man he missed a huge chance.  I wanted him to score a goal so bad.  A little few minutes later Toby turned around and looked over at me from midfield.  He smiled really big and flashed me a thumbs up.  I gave him a thumbs up.  As Toby and I walked back to the car, Toby looked up to me and said “Dad did you see me almost score a goal?”

“Yeah little man I saw” I replied.

“It was awesome!” Toby said.

“It was little man, I proud of you” I replied.