Is there such a thing as pre-proud?  I think I felt pre-proud tonight.  Way back when my son, Obi, was about 6 months old, we talked about what types of activities we want to get him involved in.  I told Jessey that I want Obi’s first sport to be soccer, even though its a sport I never played growing up.  Soccer is a very healthy sport (lots of running) and develops foot/eye coordination that is invaluable in all other sports.   I played baseball and basketball in organized leagues from the time I was 4 or 5 through high school, and I played violin/viola/bass from age 6 through high school.  I wanted to think ahead about what I would like my son to get exposed to in terms of extra-curricular activities to see in what ways he is gifted uniquely.  I knew early on that there was little chance that he would follow the same sports/music path that I have, but I have always seen my involvement in sports and music with other kids my age as being invaluable.  I still play music and church-league softball, 27 years later.

Earlier this week, I found out that my schedule at the restaurant is changing slightly, from working Monday nights to working Tuesday nights.  I felt neutral about the change, except that I won’t be completely off at the restaurant on Tuesdays any longer.  When I got home, my wife informed me that she had signed Obi up for “Happy Feet Soccer” with the Peoria Park district on Tuesday nights.  I was super bummed.  My dream of 27 months had come to fruition and I was going to be working when Obi plays soccer for the first time.  I had to do something about this predicament.  There was no way that I was going to miss this.

Tonight I talked with a co-worker about switching shifts with me for the next 6 weeks while Obi is in soccer.  My co-worker obliged, and suddenly I was overwhelmed with emotion.  I am going to watch my son play a sport with other kids his age for the first time next week.  I think this is something that every dad (maybe not every, but most) wants for their son.  I want him to be awesome.  I want him to learn how to play well with others.  I want him to learn teamwork.  I want him to love sports.

As I cleared off a table, I had this huge smile on my face which almost turned to tears.  The only way to describe the feeling is “pre-proud”.  I was pre-proud of my son playing a sport.  I was imagining him running back and forth with 20 other kids chasing a ball, crying, fighting, learning how to share, being sweaty and exhausted, and eating ice cream afterwards.  He’s in his terrible-twos something fierce right now, and I know that it will be a battle some Tuesdays to get him out the door let alone to play soccer, but I am looking forward to this more than I can remember looking forward to anything in my life.

I hope that I can encourage Obi to be the best Obi he can be, whether he likes soccer or hates it.  Its not about soccer.  Its about learning life-lessons early that will shape him forever.  Tonight, for the first time, I am proud to have a son that plays sports.  It feels so good.


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