Today was the first day of soccer. It’s been awhile since we’ve done soccer – since we’ve done any classes or sports at all, for that matter. Rhys was extra excited, quickly putting on his soccer jersey, shorts (despite the windy, 55 degree weather!), socks and shin guards. When we got to the soccer field, he leapt out of the car and we ran, hand in hand, across the road and to the field to join his pre-school classmates and their grown-ups.
Lucky for us, the coach this season is the amazing Coach Lety, with Soccer Kids. She hasn’t seen us in about 2 years, yet looked to Rhys and asked, “Are you Leighton’s little brother?” I am still shocked, and touched, that she remembered our family.
Coach Lety welcomed all the kids onto the field, and most ran right to her, bouncing with anticipation and energy. Rhys wasn’t so sure. He grabbed onto my leg, and wouldn’t even look her way. I asked if he needed me to come onto the field with him. He nodded.
So, together, for the next 30 minutes, we dribbled a soccer ball, pretended to be race cars zooming across the field, played “red light, green light”, and cheered when we got the ball into the goal. During practice, Rhys looked over his shoulder every now and then to be sure he always knew where I was. A few times he asked to hold my hand. But we made it through class, and I could tell there were even a few smiles hiding behind his mask.
That evening at bath time, we were taking off his jersey and socks, and I told Rhys how proud I was of him for doing a great job today. I told him how happy I was that I could be with him on soccer days. (I work part-time so I only get to join some of his classes and events.) He said quietly, “I needed you today.” I held onto his hands and said, “I know you did. I am really glad I was there.”