On Saturday morning, I got to see Little Man play soccer for the first time in four years (if not more). I was a little nervous. He is on an Under 14 team – I could only think of what Big Man’s U14 team looked like a few years ago – big, fast, skilled. I worried how he would manage, if he would be able to keep up, the potential for him to get hurt, how he would act with me there.
It’s been awhile since we were soccer parents. I had to write myself a note just to remember to take the chairs to the fields. The soccer complex still looks much the same, with even many of the same people roaming around. It was surreal to be back, as I was convinced our years as a soccer family were done when Big Man finished his last game three years ago. We took our seats on the sideline after chatting with some fellow teammates’ parents. Spouse is helping coach (totally in his element!) so he paced the sideline in front of us. The whistle blew, and the game started.
Our team got destroyed. We are a rec team, yet we played a comp team, which was evident pretty much right out of the gate. We had one sub the entire game. Our boys were gassed early. I lost track of all the goals the other team scored. We didn’t score one, although we did have a few shots on.
You know what I noticed more than anything else? Little Man didn’t look much different than his teammates. As in, if you didn’t know he was autistic, you’d never have guessed. He ran, he made a few passes, he moved around the field like he kinda knew what he was doing. He didn’t get taken out by another player. He could totally keep up. He did ask a bit more than his teammates to be taken out, but he played most of the game, and it was warm out there. He wasn’t a rock star, but neither was he just a body out on the field.
I can’t explain the level of relief I felt. He looked like everyone else. He played soccer! He did it.
I have to share this photo of him from in-game. Do you see the smile on his face? Good golly but seeing that did my heart so good.