It takes a village to raise children. Before I had kids, I had heard this phrase over and over again and as our children get older, our village continues to expand to those near and far. A few weeks ago, it included a little boy on the soccer field.
Most weeks, I don’t make it to soccer practice. My husband is now coaching and when I have to watch our three year old and the baby while he’s on the field, it turns into me negotiating with the three year old to stay off the field. I assure him that he can play with Daddy after practice, as long as he STAYS OFF THE FIELD. One morning, he found another boy to play with so they started a friendly game of soccer and played very nicely for ten or fifteen minutes until my son threw a fit and started bawling. The tears poured and his teammate stood there bewildered as my son yelled about being a terrible player and his new friend being, “to good.” I knew this tantrum was coming way before it started. I watched the other boy block all but one of my sons shots and score on him 80% of the time. Despite knowing my son would throw a fit, I remained silent until he needed me. I could tell his opponent was a few years older than my son too, based on the jersey he was wearing, but I wanted the boys to continue playing and didn’t want to ruin a good thing.
When he started crying, I brought him over to me and the other boy ran over as well. I agreed with my son, that yes the boy was a better player and asked the boy how long he had been playing. The proud soccer player responded, “since I was three, so four years.” He’s been playing longer than my son has been alive. This boy was seven. My son was three. I explained to my son that if he continued to practice for as many years as this boy had he would get better as well, and explained how he is older the same age as some of his cousins.
The little boy was surprised to hear he was three. For a three year old, he’s a big kid and is about the same size as our five year old daughter, which has been hilarious to watch as the kids grow up because people constantly ask if they are twins. This started happening at a very young age and my very articulate, outspoken daughter would quickly correct strangers with, “I’m 3 my brother is 1- he can’t talk yet,” and they would walk away feeling silly. On the soccer field, that’s all his new friend needed to hear for him to take it easier on our poor sport. His friend began purposely missing some shots and started kicking some balls directly at him so he could block them and field the ball better. I would never have asked him to take it easy on my son, that’s not the type of child we want to raise, but apparently this boys parents are raising a compassionate, kind seven year old and he wanted to make my son feel good. I was incredibly impressed and also relieved. The older our children get the more I realize how many people our village includes. Their teachers, babysitters, friends, gym and this week, the compassionate seven year old on the soccer field. This is our village. I am fortunate and very grateful that it includes the type of kids I want my children to become.
Who am I missing? Who is in your village that you can’t be without?