Hank, our soon-to-be eight year old, kind of has a love/hate relationship with soccer. He’s a natural player, but often says he doesn’t want to play. Until he actually plays. Then he’s totally into the game. Each year, I’ve continued to enroll him in our town’s league, FC Soccer, and each year, he’s resisted. And played anyway.
This year I see a change. I think he’s starting to truly like it. This morning he asks me if he can bring soccer ball to school. He says: “Soccer is really popular right now.”
I think Hank’s change of heart may have come about over the weekend. My husband and I took him to his first, professional soccer game at the WakeMed Soccer Park to see the Carolina RailHawks versus the Fort Lauderdale Strikers. Hank had no idea. He doesn’t like surprises unless they involve the neighborhood ice cream truck or a special delivery from Amazon. I wasn’t sure if he’d agree to go to a game, but thought the experience might help to change his mind about soccer
Using my iPhone, the directions to the park were broadcast over the car speakers, allowing Hank to listen and wonder where each turn was taking us. Naturally, he nailed it in the first minute, but I didn’t give it away. I think he preferred the suspense.
The weather was perfect for a soccer game. A little cool and a beautiful sun settling down for the night.
We didn’t know the RailHawks had orange uniforms. Hank happened to have orange spray paint in his hair. A coincidence. He came directly from his elementary school’s annual carnival with the orange head. When he saw that the team color was orange, he took off his magic hat and began to tell anyone and everyone he has orange hair.
Right away, he was excited to be there. He loved the crowd, players and the view. I chose seats a little higher so he could get a full picture. Halfway through the game, I ask Hank how he thinks about difference between his games and how these big men play. My neurotypical brain assumed he would answer with a rather standard response. Instead, Hank says: “They have four shadows because of the lights from the field. It makes it look like an X. There’s a big circle in the middle of the field. If there were more circles, they could play a game of tick-tac-toe.”
Suddenly, we saw the X’s. And then that’s all we could see. I do not think I would have noticed it if Hank’s amazing way of seeing things had not be brought to my attention. I loved it. It made me realize everyone has a way of seeing something that is unique to them. Kind of like looking at the clouds.
I love how Hank reminds me of this every day. He’s awesome.
At the end of the game, Hank wanted to meet the players and get some autographs.
He has no trouble moving up to the front and asking the RailHawks player for that autograph. He is not a shy boy.
I hope Hank is looking forward to his soccer game this weekend. It will be interesting either way.
The Railhawks won their game, 3-1, against the Fort Lauderdale Strikers.
We’ll be back. Hank wasn’t the only one who enjoyed the game. I still can’t get over how those men used their heads to control the ball.