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.
In July Tobias told me that he didn't want to go to Ucluelet this summer. Last summer we went for ferragosto (I've appropriated the Italian name for a holiday on and around August 15) and I surfed for the first time. I thought maybe I would create a yearly tradition of ferragosto in Ukee. But this year he wasn't interested. My big girl Rara is now twelve, so theoretically I could have taken the kids myself and she could have watched her brother while I surfed. But that is non-ideal because it means that I'm constantly distracted while I'm in the water, making sure they're okay on land and stressing out about bears and it means that she has to surf alone. Sucky. I longed to have a friend that would want to come on such a trip with me and my kids and who would enjoy it and trade off childcare duties. Alas, I have no such friend.
I do have a sister, Randal, but she lives in Tanzania full-time now. I sighed and imagined an alternate reality where she lived here and would like to try surfing and would want to come camping. The next day my mom announced that my sister was coming home for a two-week visit. The day after that Randal accepted my email invitation to a three-night trip in my old camper van Godiva with the kids and a surf lesson. Miracles happen. I prayed a prayer of thanksgiving.
(Tangent: I don't believe in the Secret but I think I know why it appears to work. It's because people who believe in it allow themselves to formulate their desires to a degree that the rest of us don't. This means that they know what they want, and are open and aware and vigilant about any opportunities that arise in their lives that help them to get those things. And then, once they get them, they know they got them, and they can celebrate. That's how it works for me. It's a novel concept in my family: wanting something, allowing your mind to dwell on that wanting, thinking about it, figuring out the steps to getting it, and then jumping on chances that arise. A more frequent pattern is this: wanting something, putting it from your mind. Maybe you get it anyway, but if you do, you aren't nearly as excited as you would have been because you didn't allow yourself to dwell on it long enough to know how much you really wanted it. )
So my sister and my daughter took a surf lesson together. My sister said she enjoyed it, but she didn't catch the bug the way I did last summer, where I wanted to sell my house and quit my job and homeschool just so I could surf all the time. Rara, who is, did I mention? TWELVE YEARS OLD!, is an absolute natural. She really floored her instructor, who thinks she could be a pro if she wanted to. The very first wave she tried to catch, she caught, and not only caught, but stood up, and rode it all the way into the shore. She is really amazing. The next day we surfed together and she would consistently rock out on the waves that either wiped my board out from under me before I could get up, or toppled me over soon after getting up. It wasn't my best surfing, but then, I'm not particularly good at it.
Randal called Wickaninnish Beach a bobo beach. "Bobo" is an adjective used in my family to denote a sense of obliviousness, mediocrity or loserishness. It comes from Spanish, but I can't remember how. When my sister and my mom and a mutual friend started working out at the gym together, they had matching jackets made that said Bobo Fitness on the back. This is because of the face my mom makes when she is in the weight room, surveying the different fitness machines. It's a look of bewilderment called her bobo face. Randal and the friend embraced the name Bobo Fitness as a way of recognizing their own discomfort in the meathead/T&A culture at the gym. I think it was a subtle way of striking back at that culture too. Sort of like they were saying, "We're here for our own reasons. Don't assume we want to be like you."
That's all very well for them, but bobo is not a term that I really identify with and I thought bobo was a bit harsh for Wickaninnish. It's beautiful and there are a lot of really good surfers there. But Randal rightly pointed out that there is a distinct lack of hot beach bodies around. Very little T&A at Wickanninish. Probably because everyone has wetsuits on.
I read online that the Long Beach surf community is rare in its acceptance of female surfers. It's pretty much a totally normal and expected thing there, that girls will surf. I wonder if this is partly due to the lack of a lot of gorgeous bikinied women walking around there. I don't have anything against gorgeous bikinied women, but when you're at a beach with loads of them, it does create an environment where there's a sort of implicit assumption that the primary role of women on the beach is ornamental. And this could maybe discourage active participation in surfing. That's my theory.
I want my family to be a surfing family. The idea of taking Deetman (still only five years old, bless him) out in the water with me and helping him catch little waves used to seem scary and dangerous to me. Now I think it's totally fine, despite the fact that he can only swim a distance of 3m. He's not that keen on it yet. He loves wave-jumping but hates taking his wetsuit on and off and is pretty scared of riding a wave by himself. By this time next year I'm hoping he'll change his mind about these things.
We do too many things. All four of us have so many interests already and Tobias and I both have demanding work lives, despite mine being part-time. We are busy all the time. I don't care. I want us to find a way to fit surfing in.