Sunday, August 14, 2011

In which it is revealed who plays with funny-shaped balls in my family

I know that this post will result in an irate phone call from my father.  "Don't you criticize my grandson!"  In his eyes, neither of my children can ever do any wrong, and both will win the Nobel prize, the Heisman Trophy (even Josie) and at least one Olympic gold medal by the time they're 20.

My response will be that I am not trying to criticize Zeke.  Just pointing out my observations about his strengths and weaknesses.

We went on a date night the other night to watch rugby with some good friends (the wife ended up not being able to go because of a feverish baby, so J and I hung out with the husband).  The US team in town was playing a test match against Canada. I really enjoy watching rugby even though I don't understand it very well.  It's a fierce game played by tough, fit people.

I observed that, at least in the U.S., where rugby tends to be most popular in universities, I love guys that play rugby because they're big strapping strong men who also tend to be smart and well-educated.

"Not in Australia, baby," J corrected me.  "In Oz they're the window-lickers."*

In any case, it was a beautiful evening and we had a great time enjoying a few beers and watching the game even though the U.S. team got their asses handed to them by the Canadian side.

In fact, because the main attraction was kind of a dud of a game, the highlight of the evening came during halftime, when some kids from local youth clubs played against each other for a couple of possessions.

The kids were awesome and the best player on the field was a girl.  She was fast and tough and amazing at reading the field while she ran with the ball.

The friend that we were with, Trey, is the parent of one of Zeke's friends from daycare.  His daughter, Lucy, is about 3 months younger than Zeke (she'll be 4 in January) but is super-tall (she towers over Zeke and looks like she's about 5) and totally athletically fearless.  She loves rugby (her dad plays) and is going to start playing in a youth league this winter.

As we were watching the kids play, particularly the one girl who was really good, Trey was talking about how excited he is for Lucy to start playing.

J kind of shook his head.  "Yep, and Zeke will be on the sidelines, cheering her on while playing with his iPad."

I couldn't really disagree with him.

Not that we think Zeke is a pussy, because we don't.  He's a good athlete, loves jumping around, taught himself to swim at the age of 3 1/2, enjoys ski school and all of that.  But he's kind of cautious and sensitive and cerebral.  I see him as a baseball player more than I see him playing something like football or rugby.**

No, the consensus (at least between J and me) is that the biggest balls in the family belong to Josie.

Because Josie is like J -- totally fearless, amazingly coordinated and athletic, and utterly without regard for her own physical safety.  She will climb on and jump off of anything.  She takes shit from no one and will not hesitate to defend herself when someone gets in her face (I'm sure that some of her toughness comes from being knocked around by Zeke, but I also think it's just part of who she is).

This is particularly alarming in the pool, because she thinks she can swim even though she really can't -- she's a frightening combination of supreme confidence combined with a lack of actual ability.   I can't even take her in the big pool because she gets so mad when I hold on to her.  So I let her bounce around in the 2-foot-deep baby pool, where she puts her head underwater and starts kicking her arms and legs, and then after a few seconds she'll put her feet back down and stand up.  If she's under for more than 5 or 6 seconds, I'll gently tug under her armpit and pull her back up so she can breathe, but other than that I leave her alone.  The other parents always look horrified, but she's fine.  I'm obviously not going to let her drown.

So even though she's a skinny little string-bean, if anyone is going to be kicking ass and taking names on the rugby pitch, it'll be Josie, not Zeke.  Not that I think he'll be pasty-faced virgin living in our basement well into adulthood -- hell, he could have a career as a porn star -- but I don't see him as a rugby player.

Sorry, Dad, but it's true.

*I had to look up what a window-licker is, but I correctly assumed it wasn't Aussie-speak for someone who went to Harvard.  Turns out it's not a very nice term, but in my experience, Aussies can be a bit harsh in their word choices even though they are some of the friendliest people on the planet.

**On the other hand, Zeke reminds me of another sensitive, cerebral guy - my brother Sam, who is a terrific athlete, including being a really good football and rugby player.  So what do I know?


  1. Anonymous7:48 AM

    You know I'm a die hard baseball fan! My boy has been playing since he was 4. Start Zeke off in t-ball now. If nothing else, it's a guaranteed hoot of a good time for the parents to watch 13 kids on a field converge on one little ball.

    Sorta like rugby.


  2. Once again, a post that confirms Zeke and Walt would be the best of friends. We signed up Walt for soccer in Prospect Park. He'd run away from the group to go hunt for sticks and look at rocks. He's also cautious and careful, though he will try things. Just not fearlessly.

    Maybe we should start their online Dungeons and Dragons game now. :)