Mario played soccer at school recess after he broke his arm on New Year’s Eve. He used to only care for football at recess but with a bum arm, that’s impossible. So soccer it was for 6 weeks straight.
He enjoyed it.
A few times over dinners, he asked if he could play on Spring soccer. I told him I’d look into it. It so happened that I was picking him up at school one evening after a Kids Night Out function and one of the dads there asked me if Mario played soccer. I told him he had never played but was interested. And voila! The next day I got a Facebook message from a Kiwanis coach asking Mario to join them for practice.
When I told Mario, he was charged up.
When I told Ri, she cried.
Soccer has always been her sport. She’s worked her way up from Kiwanis to OCL and she’s proud. She loves the game. She does not want to share it with her brother. She worries that Mario will excel in it and become the “soccer star.” She broke my heart as she relayed all these emotions to me while getting ready for bed.
A part of me thought I should take Mario out of soccer. After all, he’s also playing flag football this Spring. But that’s not fair. And Ri needed to understand that we’d always love watching her play and it would always be her sport.
Jon was out of town this week when Mario had his first practice. I took him up to it and dropped him off. Ri did not want to go. I went back home after walking Rocco and told Ri that I wanted her to walk up to Mario’s practice with me to pick him up. I bribed her with ice cream.
We arrived with ten minutes left to practice. They were scrimmaging. Ri and I watched Mario run the field. Ri didn’t say much for the first couple of minutes. Then, as Mario stopped the ball mid-field, she shouted:
“Go Mario! Get that ball and score!”
I melted. My girl – although not too happy about Mario’s choice to play “her sport” – still rooted on her brother to victory. Her heart is as big as the cosmos. And I know Mario heard her and ran harder to impress his big sis.
I told Ri that a reason he wanted to play was because he had seen her enjoy playing the sport so much. She has an influence on him as his big sis. She liked that thought.
After practice, she begged me to take them to Target to buy him shin guards and a ball so that he’d beprepared for their next practice. The girl takes care of her little bro, no matter what.