To play, or to PLAY

Soccer, October 2011 by InkSpot's Blot
Soccer, October 2011, a photo by InkSpot’s Blot on Flickr.

7am. Saturday morning. (Stress: SATURDAY morning). Me, Anissa. Two cups of java. Two camera bodies, four lenses. Add in two pee wee teams playing against each other in the mist. That’s the situation. Anissa already had the gig lined up. I was just tagging along, but I like to shoot, so why not, right?

Unfortunately the green team (“our” team) seemed to be behind by the time we showed up. In the first five minutes, the red team scored another goal. Little lips protruded from faces like diving boards to pools of sadness. One boy slung his arm around another, whispered in his ear and patted him on the back. A plan and some comfort?

Maybe. We witnessed one glorious goal. The after party was immense. #4 was sheepish in the glowing praise of his peers, but he grew more confident. Shrugged shoulders grew straight and his little head lifted up. Yeah. That was pretty epic. But play on. It wasn’t over yet.

Parents yelled directions to the kids. “Hustle!” “Get the ball!” “Defense!” Ugh. I remember those days.

They all gave it some effort; however from my inexperienced perspective they weren’t really into it. #4 liked to dance in between plays. He went after the ball, although arguably not with the same enthusiasm. The green team slogged through the rest of the game. Team red scored two more goals. And then it was over.

The teams separated to opposite sides of the field. “2-4-6-8, who do we appreciate” the green team chanted. Then the parents formed a tunnel, raising their arms high above their heads. The kids transformed. Released from the game, they raced through, gave high fives and attacked the donuts that magically appeared. Released from the game, they jaunted across the field, donuts in hands or mouths, and dribbled the soccer ball or played other games.

“So you have energy for that” was the gist of the comment I heard.

I reveled in the change, saw all these important connections between concepts of work and play, how “fun” makes something not a chore, but a joy, and the uncategorical importance of love.

Thanks kiddos.

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