Our next door neighbors have two children that are a few years older than our brood. Their older son is an accomplished lacrosse player and ever since the day William saw him in the front yard tossing around a lacrosse ball, our son was hooked.
"What is that game he's playing?!" he excitedly asked me.
"Field hockey!" I excitedly replied, because I knew it was either lacrosse or field hockey and figured I had a 50% chance of being correct.
His enthusiasm about the game was only escalated once our neighbor kindly gave William his smaller sized lacrosse stick. So last year, we signed him up for a lacrosse league and twice a week, he met with a group of 8-year old boys and they were so adorable, running around the field, tripping over themselves, learning how to scoop the ball, cradle it, pass it, and all other types of lacrosse-y things.
Unlike other activities where he is excited to participate and then burns out after the first week or two, his enthusiasm for lacrosse has not yet waned. In fact, once he wrapped up the spring season last year, he's been asking nearly every month since, when does the next season begin?
And so it was, Charlie signed William up for lacrosse again this year. Although this year, his league is for boys 11 and under. This age range didn't alarm me too much, until I witnessed his first scrimmage last weekend...
For starters, the scrimmage - which occurred in a huge field 90 minutes from our house - started at 10 in the morning and lasted until 8 at night. We arrived at 10:30 AM and a mere four hours later - we were desperate to leave. Or rather, everyone except William, was desperate to leave.
William could have stayed there all day and would probably like to be there, still.
But there is only so much coloring and picnicking and story telling one can do.
Now there are some BIG differences between lacrosse last year and lacrosse this year. The most notable difference is that last year, it was just my little boy with a lacrosse stick and ball, and practices with similar sized children two times a week. None of the kids really knew how to play and it was fine, because they were little. This year, our team who is still on the small side, didn't seem to know what was happening as the opposing team scored once, twice ... eight times in 20 minutes.
Last year, there were NO games, there were certainly NO marathon scrimmages that consume an entire weekend day. And there definitely were NO big kids out on the field playing against my son that looked like they were twice his size and had enough facial hair to warrant a razor and can of Barbasol. The physical difference between a nine year old and an eleven year old can be quite large, and some of these boys were big.
The other equally notable difference is that this year, the top half of our son's body is covered in protective pads and he wears a helmet and face mask atop his blonde head. In his mouth, he has a guard to protect his teeth. When I first saw all the gear, it didn't really strike me that lacrosse is a CONTACT SPORT and the reason they have to wear all the padding and helmets and mouth gear, is because part of the game is whacking your opponents like a piñata with your lacrosse stick until they drop the ball or fall to the ground in agony.
And to think, I thought football was violent.
There was a boy, from the opposing team, who we saw fall to the ground in agony and it took everything in my power to not run out to his side and scoop him up like a newborn. When his coach came out and after kneeling beside him for a couple minutes, helped him stand up and walk off the field, it surprised me that I had tears streaming down my cheeks.
And that is precisely why William is now signed up for ballet.*
Shhh, don't tell him.
*No, not really .... but I'm very, very tempted.