I was at my son’s indoor soccer game. They were losing. He was, as usual, kind of running around the plays. Running up to the man with the ball, but then backing away at the first sign of contact. Or he was rolling on the turf from having tripped himself up and fallen. Or he was on the bench.
Another set of parents from the other team were sitting near me. Each of us yelling at our respective child players. When my son tried to ‘shoot’ the ball, it went right so to speak and up against the wall. A collective groan erupted from the parents of our players. The ball went no where near the intended goal. But he tried. All season I had been trying to verbalize what my son looked like when he played soccer, lacrosse or anything for that matter. He’s kind of tall for his age, super long legs and arms. Tall and lanky we used to call it. He has this crazy way of running, like his hands are a cape flapping in the wind. He leans forward deeply and off he goes. Its the strangest thing I’ve ever seen. But he’s my son who wants to be a scientist, not a professional soccer player.
At first I thought when he’s on the field he resembled a baby gazelle. All legs, wobbly, but lean. But on this day a more accurate image hit me all at once and I said it out loud without thinking. ‘That’s my little giraffe’ I said. And the other parents near laughed out loud then verbally agreed as we continued to watch the game. My son is all legs, all arms, a lean body and like a baby giraffe, pretty clumsy. I suddenly looked at him differently as I appreciated him for the speed that he has yet to realize or learn to use.
Yes, giraffes do play soccer. They are thoughtful, well intentioned and full of the love and the spirit of innocent children. They are awkward and still learning how their bodies work. They crave the release that exercise provides and although it sometimes scares them, they like how competition makes them feel.
When giraffes play soccer, it really is a beautiful thing…