Friday, April 2, 2010

Meditations on a Football Pitch

(Notice that I didn't say “soccer field.” My kids would berate me soundly if I did!)

It's that time of year again, when kids head to the pitch and start kicking a blac-and-white (or pink-and-white) ball around and yelling “Goal!!” a lot. Our yard regularly fills with teenagers who bounce balls on their heads and try to kick them through the goals that Ken made out of PVC pipe last year. Practice fills the evenings, and dinner is once again served in shifts.

Meanwhile, Mom waits in the van, writing and having a few minutes of uninterrupted reading time. Sometimes I get out of the van and walk for a bit of exercise and fresh spring air, if it happens to be a reasonable day.

Long ago, it seems, I made the pilgrimages to the pitches or playground fields with a baby, a toddler, and the child or children in their cleats and shin guards, water bottles clutched or forgotten on the kitchen counter. Then, practices and games were times to amuse little siblings while waiting for Older Sibling, or to drop of Child Number One before scurrying to the field in the small town nearby to drop off Child Number Two. This was even more fun on Game Days, when the dropoffs could need to be made at roughly the same time, in locations that were separated by twenty miles or so.

Now, even with two kids playing, things are less chaotic. No babies to ready, no small ones to amuse, just two players who know the drill and entertain themselves and me with interesting conversation and take charge of the music in the van.

The music has changed, too. It used to be nursery rhymes and sing-alongs. Now it's Indie music that someone has found on MySpace or Youtube. The songs aren't about how to tie one's shoes, but about Harry Potter and Doctor Who, about mythology and pain, about life as it is, or could be. I let my kids put songs on my MP3 player sometimes, just so I can hear something new and find out what the kids are feeling.

Alanna comes in, having walked home from her practice with her friend Elizabeth, who may as well live at our house. The girls look strong and healthy and beautiful. Neal complains about playing keeper too much, his tall, lanky body leaning against the counter as I watch him grow before my eyes. (How long will those new cleats fit?)

The days of toting diaper bags and baggies full of graham crackers are gone, but I'm really comfortable with the relative calm that has replaced them. Sitting in a quiet van, writing about what's really important is where I'm meant to be now.

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