Deetman has pre-season soccer camp this week. His third season of soccer begins next month. This morning he claimed that his legs "really hurt".
"From soccer yesterday? You were working really hard." The camp is three hours long and from what I could tell from the 30 minutes of observation I did at the beginning and the 15 minutes I did at the end, he was running hard the entire three hours.
"No, not from that."
"From doing the lemonade stand?" After soccer camp yesterday we had a lemonade stand on the road in front of the house. Our ongoing joke as we sat there and watched the light change and the neighbourhood do its thing for two hours was how hard we were working. As in, "Boy this lemonade business is HARD WORK! I'm just exhausted, sitting here in the sun, aren't you?"
"Ha ha! Yeah, from the lemonade stand."
"Well, maybe you are a bit stiff from sitting still for so long."
"Yeah that must be it. I don't think I should go to soccer today."
I did my usual thing, which is to say that he has to go and if his legs hurt that badly he can just watch and learn but yes, he has to put his soccer outfit on just in case he changes his mind and wants to play. Sometimes parenting is a little shifty, oh well.
So we get there and he wants me to tell the coach that his legs are sore and he can't play. So I do. But as I do, I lower my sunglasses and roll my eyes so that the coach can see, but Deetman can't, and will understand that I'm not really buying the hurt legs thing. The coach suggests that Deetman needs to loosen up his legs by playing some pass with him before he starts playing a real game. Great idea. I know at that point that Deetman is totally fine and will be playing just as hard today as he was yesterday.
Another child and mom approach while we're talking to the coach and the mom is also reporting on an "injury". But the mom doesn't roll her eyes, and says that her child has pulled a muscle. This child, instead of being urged to loosen up with a game of pass, is told to "just play goal for a while."
So, kinda interesting. Two kids who have bones in their legs convince their moms to have a chat with the coach about it. One is told to loosen up by playing, one is relegated, for the time being, to goal-keeping. One is a boy, and the boy's mom rolls her eyes at the coach. One is a girl, and the girl's mom earnestly describes the bone in the leg as a pulled muscle.
I can't help but view what I see happening at soccer through the lens of gender. The differences between the boy players and the girl players are just so blatant to me, I can't stop noticing them. When it comes to risk, it's obvious to me that in general girl children are urged to take fewer and smaller risks by the adults in their lives and boy parents are urged to take more and bigger ones.
A testament to the effort that our particular football club makes to address the issue is that after fifteen minutes, both children were engaged in normal play. The boy had been pulled into a game after a little bit of pass with one of the coaches, and the girl had been moved to a striker position after a little while playing goal.