For the better part of my adolescent years, I was on a field, court, track or in a pool. I was all about sports, but there was always something in the back of my mind.
The early, early years are a bit fuzzy, but as my participation increased, so did my fears. My fears that I would get hurt, not because of the pain, but because of the fact that my mom would be right there if I did.
One of my most embarrassing moments came early in my high school track career when my mom made her way to the track after I leaned a bit too far at the finish line and took a tumble.
At least it was off to the side after I made my way from the finish line, but still, I was 16. Come on.
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That was the fear. That was the fear that my dad always talked about when he was playing football for the Brookfield Bulldogs. The last thing he wanted to do was get hurt because he knew as soon as he did, his mom would come out of the stands to check on him.
I, too, had the same fear throughout my few — very, very few — fleeting moments of zen on the playing field.
After my playing days were over, I sort of forgot about that pending embarrassment.
Then it all came rushing back to me, but in a little different way.
I realized something last week as I was on the field with Gunner, my oldest son, for his first soccer experience. I realized that it works the other way, too.
At a young age, sons — and daughters, I’m sure — like to be around their parents for security. As we were in the middle of the third drill of the morning, Gunner decided that he needed to go see how his mom was doing on the sideline.
How did I know this? Well, a little context might help, huh? The first go-around for soccer and the Olathe Parks and Recreation is the Mini Me Soccer program. One parent joins the son or daughter on the field as they go through some drills to learn the game, bit by bit.
I joined Gunner on the field for week No. 1 and probably will for the duration of the session, so when he was tired of kicking the ball and hanging out with me on the field, he decided that he wanted to go see Mommy and his sisters.
Rather than get frustrated with the situation, I let him go.
As the father of three kiddos under the age of 4, I have learned to pick my battles. This was not a battle worth choosing.
I guess every once in a while, you need to check in with your parents when you’re playing soccer for the first time. You know, just to make sure everything is OK on the sidelines.
Sort of like when my nephew had to stop in the middle of one of his first basketball games to come over and hug his favorite stuffed animal that was resting in his mom’s lap.
I’m hoping that it wasn’t that Gunner was embarrassed to have me out on the field with him. Heck, I’m pretty certain he doesn’t even know what it means to be embarrassed yet. Of course, that will change. Ohhhhh, that will change. For now, I just think he lost interest for a second.
There will be time for Dad to embarrass his kids. I plan on really revving it up for the kiddos when the time is right, but not now. Now it’s all about learning the game. Testing the waters to see if he likes it.
I’m just glad he didn’t need to hug Scooby. Well, not yet anyway. The season is still young.
Freelance writer Jim Bradford is a former Olathe News sports editor.