Last fall we signed both of our big littles up for soccer. It seemed like a good sport for networking. Of course Merlin ended up on a team where all of the parents were haughty and aloof, and his practices and games were all at inconvenient times. We stopped bringing him after the first weekend. Starling was on a team with her then best friend, Rachel, and Rachel’s dad was the coach, which meant Starling got to play the whole game every week. But then she and Rachel had a falling out over some little trinket that accidentally ended up in Starling’s book bag, so Starling quit soccer too. We never even thought about sports after that.
Yesterday after school I looked out back and Starling and Merlin were playing soccer again, and Merlin was really good. Starling has always been a gifted athlete of course, she takes after me, but Merlin is a nerd. How did he ever get get to be so good at soccer?
When I asked him where he had learned to play he said that he played it with his friends at school. That made sense at first, but then I thought about his geeky, weirdo, uncoordinated friends, and I realized he was lying.
I ended up not giving him anything to eat or drink until he told me how he really learned to play soccer. He was crying and begging and saying, “I promised! I promised!” but children shouldn’t keep secrets from their mom. After a few hours outside in the cold without a jacket he finally told me; Ty has been teaching him soccer during recess and after school.
Merlin was apparently very upset last fall when we stopped taking him to soccer. I know that he wept at the time and tried to give me his favorite toys to “pay” for the league fees, but I didn’t think that it really bothered him to quit. Ty was apparently a star soccer player in college, and he believed he would play in Europe until he had a devastating injury, so he has taken Merlin under his wing and taught him some kicking skills.
You know, everyone teases me about Ty, and how he must have a crush on me, but I thought we were just buddies. But Ty taking all this time this year with Merlin really makes me wonder; would he be doing this for just any kid? There obviously has to be a reason that he does special things for him all of the time, like teaching him debating, or give him a Halloween costume, or teaching him soccer. I certainly feel bad if I have somehow led him on. I am so very happily married that of course I am not interested in Merlin’s teacher!