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There is only one success--to be able to spend your life in your own way.-Christopher Morley
Game One Is Won
By David
Posted March 30, 2011

It's finally a warm sunny day in Southern California after four months of torrential rains, bizarrely strong winds, and uncomfortably cool weather. Of course, in comparison with most of the rest of the country, our winter was considered balmy and pleasant. Could have fooled me, though.

Beautiful Eema, the Sweet Sweetheart and I are sitting on bleachers at the side of the soccer field of a local school, watching the Good Boy clad in his own school's team uniform take the field. The opposing team is warming up on the other side.

The Good Boy is about to turn ten in a few weeks and he's in fourth grade, one of the youngest on the team, which includes boys who are mostly in sixth grade. Unlike the other boys on the team, this is his first game on a soccer team or any other team for that matter. He's been looking forward to this day with lots of anticipation, but also a little trepidation since joining the team. I can see that he's proud to wear the uniform and represent his fellow classmates.

I smile at my son and recall the first time I wore a soccer uniform and how it made me feel like a professional soccer player. It was around 1979, I think, and it was in the Bronx, playing in the German-American junior league, and later I played in the Italian-American league for a team called Lazio, named after a city in Italy from which the founders of the team originated. I knew exactly how the Good Boy is feeling and it makes me smile.

Today is also the first game of the season and it's our turn to provide snacks and drinks for our team, so we have two shopping bags full of OU-stamped Gatorade and Pringles arranged in front of us on the lower-most row of the bleachers. The team members eagerly line up in front of us for their first round of snacks, their faces flushed with excitement, 90% of which is for the upcoming game, and 10% for the red Gatorade.

We brought the Gatorade
We brought the Gatorade

Several other parents are seated next to us, watching their children and chatting about whatever concerned private-school parents chat about. In a few minutes the game begins.

"How old are the kids from the other team?" One of the other fathers asks, referring to the fact that those kids are mostly twice the size of ours.

"I think they're in their twenties," I reply.

The referee whistles and the game begins.

Our kids immediately take control of the ball and seem to dominate the giants from the other team. In no time at all our team scores a goal, to the loud cheering of the parents.

One of the fathers who is coincidently a soccer coach himself, begins to shout instructions to his son and to the rest of the players on our team. Another father joins in, then me, too, encouraging the Good Boy to aggressively engage the other team's players when they advance toward our team's goal. He does so, and I give him a thumbs-up. He sees it, smiles, and plays even better than before with his confidence visibly soaring. He's giving it his best effort, and contributing to the team's success.

His team scores another three goals to win the game 4-0 and, being on the winning side, the game turns out to be fascinating for us. We're having a lot of fun, and Beautiful Eema and I are ecstatic that of all games, the Good Boy got to taste success his first time out.

As the game ends, we congratulate our team's players who did a terrific job, hand out more Gatorade and chips, and I snap a quick photo of the Good Boy. Then we pack ourselves and our kids' book bags into the our car and drive off, heading home.

"Abba (Dad)," says the Good Boy, "I hope that you upload the picture of me to your Facebook page. You know how all the other fathers talk about how athletic their sons are? So now you also can tell everyone about me and be proud, too."

"I'm very proud of you," I say, smiling.

Later in the evening, as I spend some time with the Good Boy right before his bedtime, that last comment crosses my mind again. I'm glad that my son wants me to be proud of him, and that it's important to him, just as I always wanted my own father to be proud of me.

"I was very proud of you today," I say as I hug him and kiss the top of his head, which is covered with great dark curls.

"But you should know that I'm always proud of you, not only for being a good soccer player and trying your best, but for being a good, kind person and that's what counts the most, and you'll always be that, no matter what," I explain.

"Thanks," he says, and hugs me, then invites me to do the secret handshake routine he's invented for us.

We lightly smack the front of our hands together in a horizontal motion, then return the hands in the opposite direction, bringing the back of our hands together. Then we make fists and tap our knuckles again each other's fists, straight on.

With his tenth birthday looming, I know this routine won't last very much longer. He's already announced that some changes are imminent, now that he's about to enter the double-digit zone.

But for now, it's a great ending to a great day. Most of all, I admire the boy who is showing the first glimmers of becoming a young man. He's truly a warm, kind, nice guy, not yet concerned with girls in a romantic sense, but already the target of several girls' affection.

Often, I second-guess myself as to whether I'm doing the absolute best within my power to provide everything I can for our children. But at the moment, I look at the Good Boy as he nears his tenth birthday and feel content with everything. I just want that feeling to last as long as possible.

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