“Soccer! I think Noah would love soccer,” I exclaimed to my wife as she sat in our bed immersed in a book.
“Are you sure?” she responded skeptically still looking at the book.
“Sure. He is four. He would love kicking the ball and… well, just playing.”
“We’ll see. Make sure he wants to do it.”
The next day I asked Noah if he would like to play soccer.
“Hey buddy, do you want to play soccer? You get to kick a ball and make it go into a net.”
“Sure. Can I watch a movie?”
“Okay. Now I am going to sign you up. Is that okay?”
“Sure. Start the movie, Dad! Now!”
I left him to his movie and went to the computer to sign him up and pay the $50 fee. The week passed and I took Noah to practice and, as is usual in our home, we were in a rush to get there in time. After a week, his enthusiasm for soccer had waned. It was cold but sunny. As we walked to our field Noah told me he did not want to play soccer now because it was too cold. I thought he was being difficult, so we continued to walk over to the fields.
“Dad! I am not playing!” “Come on Noah. Let’s see what is going on over there.”
“I don’t want to!”
We walked over to the field and the other kids were already kicking the ball around. Noah was clinging to my leg, hanging on as I tried to walk.
“Come on Noah, let go and play.”
We sat on the grass for a few minutes while the other kids played. I tried to get him up but he would not budge. As each minute passed I got more and more frustrated. Finally I told Noah we were going home.
As I walked away he sat on the grass and continued to watch the other kids. They were playing Duck, Duck, Goose. I noticed his interest and decided to abandon my childish act of walking away. I encouraged him to play. After a little coaxing he sat down in the circle and ultimately got touched on the head on the word “goose.” He ran around the circle, laughing and enjoying himself. When practice ended he decided that he liked soccer and wanted to go get a ball.
We picked one up on the way home and I was able to report the victory to my wife. Unfortunately that was my only victory in the six-week season. The following weeks were cold and he had no interest in playing. Even when it warmed up he did not want to play.
But what he did love to do was kick the ball with me while at practice or games. Although he would not play with the other kids he loved playing with me. I ultimately realized that he just was not ready for an organized sport. I had pushed him to get involved in an organized activity that he had never played before.
We now have a ball and lots of time to kick it around in the yard. I told my wife that we spent $50 for a t-shirt. That’s what Noah got, but I got something more. I learned how to introduce a sport to my son: just he and I kicking around a ball in the back yard, not by signing him up for a team.