A few weeks ago I was in Arizona visiting grandchildren (and children). We had a weekend full of birthday parties, Halloween parties, baptisms, you name it. We managed to squeeze in watching one of our grandsons play soccer. He is not-quite-four. I didn't know that there were soccer teams for 3-year-olds!
There were only three players on the field at any time--and the field was about half the size of a normal one. The job was to get the ball in the goal--there were no penalties or anything like that. There was also no sense of teamwork. Our grandson (in the gray shirt above) was aggressive. He would just go in there and start kicking the ball. About half the time he kicked it into the opposing team's net--apparently nothing about each team having a goal was in his frame of reference.
One of the funniest things about the whole thing was how often the kids would be kicking the ball and lose ir or someone would kick it away or out of bounds, and the little players (both boys and girls) would suddenly stop, stamp a foot (or both of them), fold their arms, and start crying. They did not like their play interrupted, their progress thwarted. Parents and/or coaches would have to help soothe--and sometimes remove a player from the field. It was funny. I kept thinking, "how little they are! how much like babies they really still are."
And then I thought that I might not actually stomp my foot, fold my arms and start crying--but I do it inside and more subtly when I get bugged at people who "steal MY ball." We aren't, after all, so different, except that we've learned to respond less like a three-year-old. We still want our way, we want all the prizes and all the praise. We want to make our goals without any interference. Seeing those budding soccer players put my life into a different lens. I hope I'm nicer to drivers on the way home today.