Monday, August 31, 2009

Shin Splints

I mentioned in passing a few posts ago that Big Brother had started fall soccer season. To my surprise, Big Brother’s first practice went very well. He was excited, played hard (and not in the dirt), and even answered a question. Apparently, my lack of coaching was the key to his success.

I knew it wouldn’t last (at least based on last soccer season).

After a rain out, Big Brother’s second practice was last Monday. I use the word “practice” very loosely here.

For no clear reason, Big Brother completely REFUSED to participate. I mean he stood on the sidelines with Mom-E and Little Brother without even so much as setting a tip-toe on the field, fuming under his breath the entire time.

His lower lip was so pouty there was enough room for an entire flock of seagulls to poop on it.

And when I arrived (a little late—all practices start at 5—which is tough on work days), nothing I
said or did could persuade him to act otherwise.

Ahh, the sweet sound of money well spent. Flush, down the drain.

The team’s word of the day was “encouragement.” Big Brother definitely needed some encouragement at practice, that is, if encouragement is defined as a swift kick in the behind followed by the words, “JUST DO IT!”

Big Brother was so hopping mad that he didn’t even join his team when they handed out popsicles (not that we would’ve let him have one, given his behavior).

I admit to feelings of despair on the way home.

I’d pretty much resolved myself to the fact that we’d witnessed the end of Big Brother’s athletic career (I mean, I wouldn’t want one of my children to quit something they’d committed to, but why continue to invest all of that time, energy, and frustration, if he’s just going to refuse to play?)

To borrow from a “Far Side” cartoon: “And then a miracle occurs.”

Big Brother happened to tell us, “my shin guards hurt my legs.”

Oh. Shoot. You’re right. You know, they are looking a little small. Apparently the 3 granola bars you’ve eaten since spring soccer season all went straight to your legs.

“Big Brother, would you like to get new shin guards?”

“YEAH! He exclaims.”

So off we go the next day to the sporting goods store, and we leave with a new, bigger size shin guards and cool black socks to go over them.

In an about-face, Big Brother is now VERY EXCITED about soccer.

You’dve thought before this we had been asking Big Brother to play soccer in an iron maiden.

Fast forward to our first game on Thursday.

Big Brother returned to the same form as the first practice. He ran wild around the fields (yes, fields, plural. For his age group, the kids end up kicking the ball on no less than 4 different fields.)

He even scored a goal (and arm-tackled one of his own teammates on a breakaway.)

Of course, according to Murphy’s Law, there were no popsicles (and no snacks, for that matter) after the game.

The whole thing reminded me that sometimes there’s not much difference between parenting a baby and an almost five year-old. It’s all about figuring out what your child wants/needs. With a baby, there’s pretty much just 3 choices (hungry, sleepy, or dirty). With a five year-old, the possibilities are unlimited, but at least they can tell you when their shins hurt.

Have a good week with no shin splints,


  1. Glad he is back in the game! Have a fun season! Rosi

  2. Glad you figured out the problem. What good parents you are. I on the other hand would have went with the Hank Hill Motivational speech "Loser! You're a loser! Baby want a bottle? A big dirt bottle!". It wouldn't have worked nearly as well.

  3. I'm so glad you figured out his shin guards needed replacing! How funny! Love Aunt-E

  4. shin splints are no fun. i wouldn't know what shin guards feel like cos i am one of the least athletic people you'll come across lol glad that you knew it was ok to not force him to play if he didn't feel like it and that it was actually only due to the shin guards and he was back again :)

  5. Thank you. I also hope that you have a shin splint free week.
    I'm so glad that you were able to figure out what was bothering Big Brother and he was able to get back to enjoying the game.
    Ok, who was responsible for the popsicles? They fell down on the job!

  6. That is so funny. It surprises me sometimes how hard it is to tell what a child needs even if they can talk. I remember the time he went nuts in the library and it turns out that he was hungry. Complete angle when I handed him a granola bar...