I coined the title of my blog after the idea that my boys seem similar, but are as different as the sun and the moon. At yesterday’s soccer game, I got a very loud reminder of how different they really are. Ryan had a disc golf tournament he had confirmed he would go to before he had got the soccer schedule, so I had brought along a new babysitter (Justine) to help guide the kids through the chaos that is soccer picture day. (Really, they put up a few tents along the most congested areas of the soccer complex and EVERY single team lined up here, fighting to find their entire teams and hold their places in lines. There was a loose schedule of when pictures were supposed to have happened, but nothing really concrete.) I was sooo glad I brought her along, because the kids were at separate ends of the picture spots and of course, playing on the fields furthest from each other. She helped Jake through the picture pandemonium while I helped Benjamin.
Though the day started out as a picture perfect hot mess, it seemed like it was going to be a much better day than the previous game day had been. The sun was shining, the temperature was warm and the breeze was just a bit refreshingly cool. I added a few layers to the boys soccer shirts, but I was more worried that they’d be too warm than I was of them being cold and wet as before. I made sure that Ben had plenty to eat before we got to the field, and I brought water bottles along for them both to have on the sideline. I also remembered lawn chairs for me and Justine, as well as a smaller lawn chair for whichever boy wasn’t playing. The games today were offset by a half hour or so (which really dwindled down quite a bit due to picture delays) so I was thinking this would be a great game day. It turned out that I was half right about that thought.
Jake headed to the field with his coach and Justine and I headed Ben over to his field, furthest from the picture location. Ben’s game was to start first, so we headed over there. Initially, Ben was really excited. He had behaved well for his individual picture to be taken, and then tried his hardest to please the picture nazi who insisted each child have their hands directly on their knees and look completely into the bright sun without squinting. But, I was in for a surprise when we got to the field. Again, Ben refused to go out onto the field. He fired a list of problems and excuses as to why he could not go out and play:
“The sun is making my eyes too squinty.”
“The wind is blowing me down and making me too cold.”
“I am too hungry.”
“I am too thirsty for my water.”
“I am too tired. I need to take a nap.”
“I need to rest in the van.”
“I just need to go home.”
With each excuse, he got whinier and whiner until he was blatantly sobbing and crying. The coaches again tried hard to coax him out of my lap. Ben stated that he was too much littler than everyone else and so he couldn’t go out. The coaches, (who you may remember have children on Jake’s team also) reminded Ben that he does a fantastic job and he can keep up with his brother Jake, who is even BIGGER than the kids on this field. Ben was still not convinced. Being the mother that I am, I pushed Ben off my lap and threw him towards the field, hoping that he would get moving and begin to have fun.
Ben reluctantly headed towards the head coach, who assigned him a spot. Unlike last week, Ben was making and honest effort to do the right thing, but his listening skills were not where they needed to be. Ben lined up where he was told, but then kept following the coach to each other child on the field in an honest attempt to be doing what he was supposed to do. The coach reset Ben to his position and reminded him that he’d need to go after the ball. When the whistle blew, Ben just stood there watching the action unfold. He didn’t move this time at all. Finally when the ball went out of bounds, Ben decided he was done and started heading to the bench. The ref must have felt a soft spot for him, because she lined him for the coach and pointed him in the right direction. She told him to run after the ball. Before she could blow the whistle signaling the start of the new play, he was up there kicking it. She looked at the coaches knowingly and allowed Ben to kick the ball, but his coach had tried to intervene (in the interest of not cheating) and so Ben got confused, and sat down and cried. They sub-ed him off of the field and he came back to my lap to sit. He was instantly content on my lap again. I decided there was no chance Ben was going to have fun when he could just be sitting with me, so Justine and I told him good bye, checked out with the coaches and headed over to watch Jake’s match already in progress.
|obviously enjoying his position|
After the long trek over the entire complex all the way to Jake’s field, Justine and I located the Wizard navy blue shirts, and found a place to plop our lawn chairs. (I really need to invest in chairs with cases, by the way.) Jake was playing defense, back by the goalie, keeping close to the position he was assigned. (Ryan would’ve been so proud. This is one of the big lessons he had been working with them on at the prior practice.) Jake was intently watching the action and following the ball with his eyes, and each time it approached he intensely got up to the ball and kicked clear of his goal. The goalie rarely had to even put his hands on the ball, though it should be mentioned that he did cover very well when necessary. (Additionally, the entire team did a nice job staying in their respective positions, and that made a big difference. The Wizards, though not keeping score, certainly dominated the majority of the game play at that point.) When Jake was pulled, he and 2 other children headed towards the sidelines. While the other two children sat down and began picking grass and throwing it at one another, Jake stood up and jumped around while shouting directions right along side the coaches. Many times Jake’s head coach would pat his head and smile knowing that Jake was enjoying the game. Soon it was half time for the Wizards, and so I headed back to check on the remainder of Ben’s game.
|Justine the amazing babysitter and soccer fan!|
To my dismay, the coaches informed me that my leaving Ben had not actually helped as I had planned. He hadn’t got out of his junior lawn chair a single time since I had left, and he seemed content to sit in the chair throughout the entire game. At that point, I apologized to the coaches for Ben’s lack of enthusiasm and against my better judgement, I allowed him to leave his team and come hang out with me to watch Jake play the second half. Ben was elated and enthusiastically waved good bye to his team and skipped the whole way over to Jake’s field.
|an unenthusiastic Fire teammate|
The second half of Jake’s game continued much like the first, though the opposing team had picked up some pointers from the Wizards, and began working their positions and answering some of the goals. The game seemed much more evenly matched and both teams (along with their parents and amazing babysitters) had a great time cheering for each teams’ well deserved goals. When the game was over, each team showed fantastic sportsmanship when shaking hands. Jake ran to me particularly excited that the Wizards had “played together with teamwork” and “stayed in their assigned positions.” He was also very proud to point out that opposing team had never scored a single goal while he was on the field, no doubt partly credited to his intense effort at defense. Jake skipped and jumped all the way back to van, rambling incessantly about how much he loves soccer and how proud he would be to tell his father how he did. We all shared in his enthusiasm, even Benjamin.
|interesting way to help the goalie|
|kicking the ball clear|
|Jake hanging with the coaches.|
At the end of the day, I questioned how two children raised by the same people could possibly have such different results on the field. I would not mind if Ben played and did really poorly, but I have a hard time allowing him to sit and not play. Ryan and I are currently debating if he is simply too young and if he will need to be pulled from the sport all together. While it would seem that Jake is a superstar waiting to happen, it appears the only coaches Ben desires to associate with are named Annie and Clarabelle, and are of the train variety. (Annie and Clarabelle are Thomas the Tank Engine’s coaches.) Perhaps Ben is just too young, and will acquire a taste for competition after he is older and understands more. Perhaps they are just fundamentally such different people that Ben will continue to be the supportive sideline act and never want to engage in the show, and that will be fine as well. The real dilemma now is whether or not I can allow Ben to quit a season of soccer. While on the one hand, he never actually asked me to play soccer… on the other I fear it might set a bad example to let him sit out just because he doesn’t want to try. I do not want to reinforce the concept that it is okay to quit, but then I don’t want him to associate soccer with the negative feelings he has while we are confusing him on the field, either. (Please feel free to leave any insightful advice you might have in my comments somewhere. I think I have changed the settings so that it should be easier to leave comments now.)
So, though at the beginning of the month Jake and Ben’s mutual preschool teachers could not overlook the physical similarities between my children, it would seem that the more alike they look, the more differently they behave. And again, my boys are as different as the sun and the moon….