Both Connor and Helen are playing soccer this year, and as part of that effort, Connor has taken to coaching Helen in the backyard. It's super awesome, because we can run around outside after dinner until it gets dark, sweating, laughing, and passing the ball. Helen's coach constantly tells me how great and aggressive Helen is, and I suspect part of the reason Helen is willing to chase down the ball is because she's used to doing it with Connor. Second grade girls are less intimidating than fifth grade boys.
Helen typically plays hard, from the moment she steps onto the field until the moment she steps off. In the rare moment when she starts to sag, I yell the only thing I will say to her when she plays soccer - "no quits". She instantly pops out of her sag and keeps going. She is finally starting to believe how strong she is, which is a great joy for me to see.
Connor has turned it up a notch on the field. He plays hard, he can keep up with most of the kids, and rather than shying away from the ball, he's getting right in the middle of the action. He's had a few nice kicks, which have made him feel pretty good.
During the first game of the season, he answered his coach's call to play goalie. I thought he was crazy to do this, but figured I should stay out of it (which I did). However, when I saw him in front of that huge goal, in a game that was tied 0 - 0, I was terrified for him.
He played all right, but then let a goal in. This clearly disturbed him greatly, and he looked a bit ill. Ninety percent of me wanted to tell the coach "just put us all out of our misery - take him out", but I did not. I sat on my hands and reminded myself that Connor doesn't need his mama to save him. In fact, he needs to be up against the wall, feeling stress, and realizing that he can get through it. (And perhaps I need this, too.)
In the end, he made a couple of stops, kept the ball out of the goal, and rejoiced when his friend Sam got a goal evening up the score. After the game, he reported how stressful playing goalie was, and let me know he never plans to do it again.
I was secretly happy about that.