I came to a realization today while watching Bud play soccer.
Playing soccer, for Bud, is just like eating ice cream.
For probably a whole year after giving Bud his first ice cream cone he would pretend to eat and enjoy them. He always insisted on having one along with everyone else, but then he would just sit there smiling, pretend-licking his cone. His tongue would come out of his mouth and perform a licking motion just shy of the actual ice cream.
To the casual observer, it looked like Bud was enjoying his cone like everyone else was enjoying theirs-- it was only to those who looked closely that the ice-cream-eating-sham was revealed. He was good at pretend-licking. A pro.
I'm pretty sure that it was that initial and unexpected shock of cold that Bud experienced the first time he tried ice cream that led him to resort to pretend-licking. But, even though Bud didn't really eat his cone, you could tell that he loved the idea-- the process of the whole thing and being like his siblings. Even just partially participating made him happy. So, I always scooped him a cone.
A few weeks back, I posted about Bud's first soccer game. It was awesome! He was such a natural and did much better than I thought he would. He was in the middle of the pack, fighting for the ball, trying to make a play.
Well all that has changed. I think that the first game, like Bud's first taste of ice cream, was a bit of a shock to his system. I don't think Bud was expecting all of the pushing and body contact that comes with soccer-- especially in swarm ball.
As a result, Bud has resorted to pretend-soccer-playing. He's really good at it. Once again, just like with the ice cream, to the casual observer he seems like an active participant. But, in actuality, Bud is skirting the perimeter of the game, only taking part when the game sucks him in.
Here he is with an open opportunity at the ball:
But, instead of jumping at the chance to have his way with the little round orb, he steps back and lets the other players on the field have a go.
The good thing about the pretend-soccer-playing style that Bud has adopted is that I get a chance to take a lot of shots of him in action without other players getting in the way.
I have reason to be optimistic, however, that Bud's style of soccer play will change. As you can see from these next photos, Bud is now an active participant in ice-cream-cone-eating. He is no longer a pretender.
Although he still gets zinged by the cold on occasion.
At his game today, in fact, Bud did a little better at being involved in the game. I told him I'd buy him a H.otwheel if he kicked the ball 10 times during the game. I'm pretty sure he kept count in his head-- he got 10 kicks, and only 10 kicks. But, it worked! At least he got in there a little.
The thing is, that even if he doesn't really get in there and kick the ball or score a goal, I'll still sign him up for as long as he wants to play. Just like how I kept scooping him ice cream cones that I knew he probably wouldn't eat. I will let him do it because he loves it. The whole time he's out there he is smiling and happy, just enjoying being a part of the process. And maybe, just maybe, one day he'll start really