After his game last Saturday—the game where he scored 5 goals in the first quarter—he yelled out at the top of his lungs, “I’m fabulous at soccer!” As you can imagine, this did not go over very well with a number of people, namely:
- all members of the opposing team (and their parents)
- all (now disgruntled) members of his own team (and their parents)
- his coach
- his little brother (Short)
- his own parents
- random people who happened to be sitting in the adjacent park enjoying the day
“Of course. It’s like being a tattle-tale.”
No no no no no. “Tall, bragging means saying how great you are, saying that you are the best person on the team….”
“I am the best person on the team,” he says matter-of-factly.
“Tall!” I glare at him.
“Everyone tells me I am. They walk up to me at half-time and say, ‘Hey, Tall, you’re the best person on the team.’ Then I say, ‘Yeah, I already know that.’ See, Mom? Everyone knows it’s true.” He shrugs: case closed.
“No, Tall,” I hiss, as I pull his sleeve to get him closer to me, “That’s not nice. Cut. It. Out. Do you understand me? Other people on the team are good, too.”
“Really? Who?” he asks in earnest.
“Uhh, uhh, your friend, Player. Player is quite good. Player made several goals today too!”
“Not as many as me,” he shrugs again. If he were 16 instead of 6 he’d say, “Are we done here?” Now, he says, “I gotta go practice my moves, Mom.”
He waves to Player. “Player! Come kick the ball with me! Come on!”
Player comes running over. They immediately start a mini-scrimmage. The two of them are a force to be reckoned with.
I walk over to Coach. She has her Blackberry out and is quickly punching tiny buttons (to me it looks like she is playing PacMan, but she could very well be transferring stocks and or/ buying a new car). “Hey, Coach, uh, can I talk to you?”
“Sure, sure, hold on one sec…..” beep—beep—boop—ring! “Sorry about that, what’s up?” she smiles a big cheery grin, revealing the type of teeth Orthodontists use in their advertisement photos to represent “After”.
“I just wanted to, uh, you know, apologize for Tall because, he, uh….” I start.
“Apologize?!?” she says, alarmed. “That kid is fantastic! Player and I were just talking about him,” (Coach also happens to be Player’s mom), “and I really hope he continues because he truly has natural talent.” She is nodding now, nodding, nodding, willing me to nod as well.
I start nodding. “Uh, yeah, uh, that’s great, but the part I am worried about is, well: the bragging. I was never very good at sports, so I didn’t have much to brag about in that arena, so to speak, no pun intended, but I just don’t want him to alienate people and, you know, not have any friends.”
Her Blackberry chooses this moment to beep, and she ignores it (thank you, Coach, I can be your new best friend now). She puts her skinny arm around my shoulder and says, “MOV, Tall is a great kid. If you just explain to him that it can hurt other people’s feelings, I’m sure he’ll stop doing it. Honestly, it’s such a Catch-22 because I hear you and your husband tell him he’s good all the time, probably to build up his self-esteem and motivate him, and now that he feels confident, you are sending him the opposite message.”
Damn. She’s good.
“You should be a shrink on the side, Coach!” I say, laughing.
Coach is laughing with me, rich peals of laughter. Then she stops cold, tucks her dark brown hair neatly under her baseball cap with the eagle on the front, and says completely deadpan, “I'm a psychiatrist, I thought you knew?”
Now I am laughing so hard that tears are streaming down my cheeks. That Coach! Funny funny funny! Gotta love her!
She fumbles in her Levi's pocket (for her Blackberry again?) and hands me a small piece of paper, maybe a coupon for sports equipment or Taco Night. I wipe the tears and smudgy mascara out of my eyes and look at the little card. Huh. It’s about the size of a business card.
Most insurance plans accepted
“When did you get these printed?” I say, still not understanding.
“What do you mean?” Coach asks.
“I thought….. I thought….. I thought you were a…… crossing guard at the school?” as the words tumble out, I am realizing how ridiculous they sound. In retrospect, I am sure she was thinking, eight years of med school versus a two-hour training seminar and a multiple choice test to be a crossing guard and no one can tell the difference?
Coach, thank God she is a nice person, says very patiently, “I volunteer as a crossing guard on Monday and Wednesday mornings right before I go to work. I am a shrink. I specialize in life coaching, such as job transitions and changes in family status, like adopting a baby or things like that.” She smiles again, and I think wow, all my friends are really really smart and I’m kinda……………not.
“Mom! Mom! Can Player come to our house for the rest of the afternoon?” Tall comes running over, his face full of sunshine.
I look at Doctor Coach. “Fine with me,” she says.
I turn to Tall. “Okay, Player’s mom said it’s fine.”
Tall taps my arm and motions for me to lean toward him so he can tell me a secret. “Mom, you know what? You were right: Player is very good at soccer, too.”
And if the bragging behavior returns………….. I guess we'll know who to call.