I hate putting it that way. I feel like a kid – especially a girl – isn’t bound to compete at every turn. I don’t want any of my girls to feel obligated to take up the fight, for themselves, their families, their race, their gender … their anything.
I learned a ton when Grace took the high road before.
So she didn’t sign up for the LEGO Ninjango Obstacle Course a few weeks ago. I wrote about it here on the CD. She’d even picked out a friend to sign up with. She’d planned it all out, which parts she’s excel and which were better suited for her friend. We’ll call her Jaylen.
No, it wasn’t a broken heart, or even a noogie on the playground taken too far. Being the devout patriot she was, she took exception to my project on advertising in our gifted and talented class. See, I made a series of newspaper ads for a car dealership …
My spokesmen: Dead U.S. presidents.
I had Honest Abe, George Washington and others pushing off used cars to the public. I had them jive-talking and contemporary-acting (“No money down?? Say WHAT, GW??” that sort of thing.) and that’s just not dignified for any of our forefathers, not even Lyndon B. Johnson, Chester Arthur or James Polk.
The USMNT did well to reach the quarterfinals in Copa America. When I see kids on the pitch, though, they’re not in Clint Dempsey or Jozy Altidore shirts. They’re in Barca and Man U shirts, paying homage to Messi and Ronaldo and Neymar.
What about the girls?
They’re in shirts with Morgan and Wambach on the back. They’re imitating Carli Lloyd and Julie Johnston and Kelly O’Hara. Their teams are built like Jill Ellis’. The boys’ teams, the men’s program, they lack the identity of girls’ soccer and the women’s national team.
It’s partially because the entire toy section seems to be divided along pink vs. camo lines. My girls bring ferocity, in a pretty way. That’s the best way to describe it. Not hair-bow pretty, but just enough eye makeup, usually painted fingernails pretty.
Yet, they come to kick some ass.
My sport Saturday: To watch a handful of 3v3 games Grace played in, while keeping my germs at a distance, as the only guy at the field with a chill and long sleeves. I downed a couple of Gatorades on the day, one of them pink, to wash down Ibuprofen.
I’ve had the worst luck with law enforcement lately.
I’m a police advocate. If I behave, I’ll have nothing to worry about. Police are there to serve and protect. It’s a tough job. These men and women put their lives on the line for people they don’t even know – and for people who don’t respect them, in some cases.
I drive the speed limit, and limit my road rage manifestation to squirting windshield wiper fluid on people who tailgate me.
On the way to the park a few weeks ago, a state trooper pulled me over for failing to change lanes when he was on the side of the road. I passed a slower car on the right on a two-lane road, and this officer’s car (and another) was parked well off the road. I wasn’t even sure anyone was in them.
It’s in the teams I coach. It’s in my teammates at work (of whom I’m old enough to be a big brother.) It’s constant, with my girls. Especially its evident on graduation day. One hundred-three seniors let fly their caps on Saturday, and look where one landed?
Grace served as an enthusiastic (and sassy) human hanger for Elise’s cap and gown.
Youth’s also still within me. I might creak and groan when I get up. Maybe I can’t cover ground the way I once did. I’m just as good once as I ever was, as the song goes. At times, I’m an old car with a fresh tank of gas, and that’s good to go.(That’s Elise, by the way, in the background, in the peach dress.)
It’s why I love them. I love them most from a position NOT as the No. 1 seed. If you’re the top team in the playoffs, your road, theoretically, starts out easy. No. 1 seeds play No. 4 seeds or No. 16s or whoever just made it in to the tournament.
And that’s the most dangerous team to play.
I love coaching or rooting for that No. 4 seed or No. 16s who get paired up with the team that’s supposed to go home with medals. The thing about tournaments and fate: Tournaments and fate don’t give a !@#$! what seed you are. You’re all 0-0, and let’s get this thing going.
They’re strange bedfellows, for sure. They catch glimpses of a political candidate saying this or a tropical storm doing that. Shootings and scientific breakthroughs. Sometimes, they ask stuff. Sometimes, they act something out.
Elise celebrated her fourth birthday two months after the Twin Towers fell.
Her young mind tried to wrap around it just as my old mind did. She suggested George W. Bush should fly a helicopter over Osama Bin Laden, and, with a coat hanger on the end of a really long pole, scoop him up and arrest him. Mission accomplished, indeed.
You know this if you’ve ever visited this blog. You also know that I’ll never paint my face at a game or defend a team’s honor with fisticuffs or waste any time watching ESPN SportsCenter. (Thanks, Disney.) No, my love of sports resides on a higher plane.
Give me rivalry and pageantry. Give me team colors, matchups, human stories.
Give me a team not expected to compete, in a state playoff game against a conference rival that’s taken them lightly. Watch them pronounce their arrival with spirited play and tenacity. That’s what the girls’ high school team did Thursday.
I tried to write a succinct topper to this sucker. Twice.
First, I wanted to tell you about the Warby Parker frames I tried on, and the adventures (and misadventures) they led to. It got long, and I didn’t want it to detract from the Go Ask Daddy portion. So I shelved it.
Then, I got into soccer.
So many great things happening in the beautiful game for me right now. They even overshadow the bad things going on. The tough stuff. By far. From one kid getting a yellow card and an acceptance letter, to another getting a hat trick on a special day for her sister.