Athletic Talent

She grips the ball tightly in her 6 year old hands.  There is sweat on them, but she doesn't notice it.  Her concentration is on the pink and white ball that she is holding.  It's slightly under deflated, with a mud smear on the lower right half of it.  Mud means victory, dirt means greatness, she gazes at the ball.  Her tongue sticks out, she does not know she is doing it.  Its like she is subconsciously tasting the air of awesome around her.  She takes one step back, then another.  She stops and thinks about it some more and then takes 4 more steps back.  This is going to be wicked.  She knows it.  She can feel it. 

She starts to run with the pink soccer ball held tightly.  She is going to drop it.  She is going to kick it.  She is going to do it like the coach taught her to do it.  She is going to send this bitch into orbit.  Crowds will go wild.  Mothers will give birth and name their children Little Hoss.  6 years old and she is a legend. 

After running for a half a mile she drops the ball.  Her foot comes up, she pushes it against the wind with all her might.  The ball falls towards it's destiny, her foot rockets to great it.  There is a moment where she can see the accolades that will soon come from this monumental moment.  She makes contact, she gets her whole foot into it.  The ball sails, the ball booms, the ball shoots off her foot.

And then hits her squarely in the face.  Right dead center.  This couldn't have been planned any better on any TV show anywhere.  CGI couldn't made this happen, but Little Hoss could have. 

She is stunned.  How did she manage to kick the ball backwards?  She is not really sure.  She falls on her rump as she thinks about this odd question.  The ball is supposed to go forward. The ball was supposed to end up by the moon.  Instead, the ball did a seeker right to her nose, which may now be bleeding.  She is not crying, not yet.  But she wants to.  She wants to because fuck all that hurt. 


My son is running.  He is running so fast.  He is running faster than fast.  He is the little engine that not only could, it did and did it with a smile on his face.  He's chasing the ball, chasing the ball, must chase the ball.  Dad says get the ball, he wants the ball, he wants it so much, ball ball ball.  His coach says get the ball, so he will get the ball.  And when he gets the ball he is going to kick the ball.  He must kick the ball.  He will kick the ball, kick kick kick, ball ball ball.

Where's the ball.   Get the ball, find the ball, where's the ball.  He will find the ball so he runs runs runs.  Maybe this kid has the ball.  Hey kid, do you have the ball?  C'mon kid, do you have the ball.  Kid, I need the ball.  I must get the ball.  That kid must have the ball.  I don't see the ball so that kid must have the ball.  His 5 year old brain is a maze of logical masterpieces.  Ball, I don't see the ball, so that kid must have the ball.  He needs to run faster.  What makes you run faster?  Screaming like Conan mounting a woman.  That makes you run faster.  And swinging your arms like you are swimming through air, that makes you run faster to.

He thinks that the screaming and air swimming will announce his intention to get the ball and his coach says get the ball so he will scream and yell until he gets the ball.  And that kid must have the ball because he is running to and you only run if you have the ball, baLL, BALLLLL! 

Cut him off, that is what coach says, so I will run up to this kid while screaming and swimming and cut him off.  C'mere kid, I want the ball.  I must have the ball.  Give me the ball! 

He catches the kid.  The kid does not have the ball.  "Hey kid," his face says "Where the fuck is the ball?"  He doesn't have the ball, there is no ball at all the be found.  No ball at all.  This is also the moment where he notices that the kid actually isn't on our team at all.  He is one of the siblings of one of his teammates.  And he also notices that this "he" is actually a "she" which is weird because this is a boys soccer practice.  She's a girl.  He's a boy.  And only one of them has soccer practice today. 

He looks up, seeming to come out of his fugue state.  Where is everyone he thinks?  What are they all doing way over there?  That's like on the total other side of the field.  He wonders if they have the ball.  He runs. 


She has mad soccer skills.  She knows it and Dad knows it.  Everyone knows it.  She has mad soccer skills because she practices alot.  All the time, like right now in the living room.  Dad says to not play soccer in the house so technically she isn't practicing soccer.  She is just kicking the ball a little bit, just a touch to keep her game up.  But she can't kick it to much because  Dad will notice and then Dad will tell her not to kick it in the house and then he might possibly throw her outside.  She doesn't want to go outside, she wants to play indoor soccer because it's cool. 

She picks up the ball and starts bouncing it.  Dad didn't say anything about bouncing the ball in the house.  This, of course, means that it is ok to bounce the ball in the house.  And if we are going to bounce it, then we must bounce it hard.  Dad says to not ever do anything halfway.  He says if you do something, then you have to do it hard.  She is not sure what that means really, she is only six.  But she takes it to mean that in some fundamental way, she must break something. 

She lifts the ball above her head.  She stands on her tip toes, she has to be at least 6 feet tall at this point in time.  She's a giant and she has the strength of the giant.  She is going to bounce the ever loving shit out of this ball.  She is going to bounce it so hard that it is going to smack the ceiling.  She is going to smack the shit out of the ceiling.  Where it goes from there is really anyone's guess.  Perhaps it will hit the mantle, where all the picture frames are.  Do those have glass in them?  Perhaps it will smack the TV which seems to be more fragile than her old TV.  Her old TV weighed about 1000 pounds and could take a beating, she knows because she tested it out.  Dad won't let them touch this TV.  He's boring. 

She brings her arms down, putting as much force as she can in throwing the ball to the floor.  This is going to be awesome.  The ball leaves her fingers, time slows down.  The ball makes contact with the hard wood floor.  Boom goes the dynamite, the sound echos around the room.  Her grin on her face is unmasked as she imagines the destruction that is about to happen.  The ball bounces up and launches. 

And hits her square in the face.  Again. 

She falls on her butt, again, as she determines what this means. 


He found the ball.  He knows where the ball is now.  Bubba Hoss is all over this ball.  He is going to get the ball this time.  He has been practicing hard, just like dad has told him to do.  And now he knows a couple of things that he didn't know before.  He now knows for instance that there is actually a ball on the field.  And he knows that it is most definitely a boy that is kicking the ball.  He is pretty sure that this boy is on his team which is important to know so that you don't go chase some stranger into the crowd.  That stranger probably doesn't even have the ball.

But the kid he is chasing now, he knows for a fact that he has the ball.  He sees the ball and dear God in heaven he wants the ball so bad.  That's what soccer is after all, it's all about the ball.  So he must go get the ball and he must catch the kid with the ball and he must kick the ball oh please oh please oh please let him kick the ball. 

He starts screaming and air swimming again because he has zeroed in on the ball and he must kick the ball.  Ball ball ball he will kick the ball he must kick the ball.  The ball is his world, it is his mecca and he will go to his mecca so he can kick the ball kick the ball kick the ball. 

He has almost caught the kid with the ball.  He does not know the kids name at the moment but that doesn't matter because he has the ball ball ball and the kid has the ball so he will run faster to kick kick kick the ball.  Run, run, run he must run faster, must run as fast as the screaming will allow him to run.  He is manic as he chases the kid that chases the ball.  His Dad wonders if he is starting to foam at the mouth.  All that he cares about is the ball and the kid that has the ball so he must catch the kid with the ball ball ball.

Hey a leaf.

He stops dead in his tracks.  He is looking at a leaf.  Cool, it's a leaf that is dried out.  And he notices that it's got an ant crawling on top of it.  He wonders where the leaf came from.  Probably a tree, he thinks.  Yes, leaves come from trees so it would only make sense that this leaf came from a leaf tree.  It's really just common sense. 

He sits down besides the leaf.  He hears someone screaming at him about a ball.  "What ball?" he thinks.  This isn't a ball.  This is a leaf.  He wonders what it would sound like if he crunches it up with is hands.

I find that some of the best moments with the two minions are when they have no idea that I am watching them.  I will sit and just look at what they are doing, what they are saying to themselves.  My role in these little moments is just to watch.  It is not to correct, it is not to judge.  It is not to change anything short of something that will actually cause them serious harm , or possibly my house. This is where a father gets a glimpse into their little minds.  Sometimes in these moments you find sparks of genius.  And other times in these moments you find your minion taking yet another shot in the face or that your son has discovered a leaf that is way more important than a soccer ball.  Either way, these are the times that belong to just me.  Sometimes you get to share in their success and other times you get to share in their failures.  But the important thing to remember is that it is theirs, success and failures, and something that they must learn to deal with.  We are lucky enough sometimes to just get a glimpse into them. 

That and it's just funny. 

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