Tuesday, October 5, 2010

On flag football, twirls, and running without abandon

The field is occupied by 5- to 7-year-old boys and so overflows with unbridled energy. That energy undulates through the 2 uneven lines formed facing each other, ostensibly for the purpose of running The Play, as father-coaches gently guide errant boys back into place.

My son is guided often.


As the lines form...
 ...he twirls wildly, arms outstretched
and flags lifting from his side.

As the players face off...
...he hops back and forth between the lines,
a lifetime supply of offsides in every play.

As The Play begins,
a mass of boys forming a blob of running legs
and grasping fingers with the football at its heart...
...he tussles with the other stragglers
at the line for a moment
and then merrily skips behind the blob.

As the whistle blows and The Play ends...
...he begins grabbing random flags
from his nearest friends,
returning them in time to begin again
his twirling.


Then, finally, it is his turn to carry The Football. The coaches, perhaps noticing his un-firm understanding of The Plays, whisper fervently in his ear, gesturing in a certain direction. My son nods thoughtfully and, when prodded, points more or less in the same direction.

"Hut. Hut! HUT!" he calls out with great precision. And volume. When he's handed the ball it transforms him into a statue. Finally perfectly still, with a dazed expression etched on his face. "Run!" remind his coaches.

It isn't until he loses both his flags that he shakes off the stone and runs down the field without abandon.


He'll learn the rules. The seemingly random instructions will coalesce into game plans and strategy and positions. The Plays will mean something to him. Right now, I rather enjoy watching him run without abandon, twirling the game away.

Do you like watching your kids learn something new?
Was your kid ever the distracted one?
Ever been the coach of your child's team? Peter seems to really enjoy it.



  1. Gotta love that boy. He is such a loveable kid. Wish I could watch him play and Peter coach.

  2. Awhh, that's so cute! I'm glad you wrote it down that way as it will be fun for him later. Cute little critter.

    My boy was in soccer at that age and didn't like people looking at him. He'd only run the field if his fat mama would run the sideline. Gah!

  3. That's so cute, Charlotte! My son was in Little League in 2nd Grade and he used to sit out in the outfield and just day dream, watch airplanes, watch balls fly over his head, anything, really, other than pay attention to the game!

  4. I remember last basketball season, watching my son play with his team of eight year olds... they tried, and tried, and tried, and lost every game all season. What amazed me the most was the emotional response that it garnered from me. I wanted so desperately for them to win... just once, for the sake of their self esteem. It was tragic, really. But we'll play again this year, and maybe he'll have a better team, and maybe he won't. But at the end of the season, he will be a better player regardless.

    I figure, when you're nine, or a younger flag twirling sort, you aren't playing to win... you're playing to experience things. It's fun... the watching of the experiencing.

  5. I used to love watching my now 13 year old play baseball (his first year... 6 yrs old) and watching him sit down in the outfield looking for clover, hitching up his obviously too large shorts while running, and enjoying the "rally caps" more than any other part of the game.

  6. You are such an eloquent writer - what a gift for your children to have your memories recorded. I can't imagine how much you (and they) will enjoy them as they grow! Makes me want to sit and compose during my little guy's next soccer game. Looking forward to sharing stories with you in our Mommy's Piggy Tales group.

  7. Awwwww... too cute! I love the fact that he was skipping! (That's my kind of athletics!) :)

  8. My kids are ALWAYS the distracted ones. {Sigh} I remember one year the entire team's goal was to help Conner make a goal. He did it. I was proud of him, and honestly he didn't really care. Maybe he did... I dunno.
    Anyway, thanks for all the comments on the blog. I LOVE my pressure cooker, especially for brown rice or beans, it cooks them SO fast. :)

  9. I think one of my favoritest things is tiny guys playing sports for the first time. It makes my heart feel all biggish.

  10. You know I have difficulty watching my kids learn new things. I want to swoop in there and help them aka do it for them.

    But in the end I am always proud when they learn and have accomplished something new.

  11. Addie says next year she wants to do soccer instead of dance (not surprising), and our parks'n'rec has 3 year old t-ball in the summer so I'm thinking Jace is going to give it a try. I can. not. wait! They'd better put on a good show and not disappoint by actually excelling.

  12. Both fun and frustrating for a sports fan (me) to watch little league ball! LOL

  13. best thing i've read all week! i love the twirling & the "which way do i run" & "what is running?". i will be sad someday when my boys know exactly what to do on the field. it's way more fun when they run the wrong direction.

  14. funny I thought this post was about Matthew until I saw the Labels. Fun Fun Football!

  15. Hey, at this age it's about fun. What's not to love about that??

  16. You brought back memories of my son when he was the short chubby kid on his Little League team. He couldn't hit, but his little chubby legs could really run those bases--and he was hysterical to watch!