Seriously, Was There Anything Ever Better Than Beating Your Dad at Something?

WHEN SHE heard that her final indoor soccer game had been switched to a players-versus-parents scrimmage, R. uncaged her inner trash talker almost immediately.

“What do you think?” I wrote in forwarding her coach’s note about the change.

soccer shoes“4 words, Dad,” she emailed back. “I will cream you.”

That’s how I found myself yesterday morning wearing a t-shirt and shorts, standing inside an enormous complex of basketball courts and artificially turfed soccer fields, and hoping not to pull anything so severely that I couldn’t drive home.

Only five of the Comets showed up; only three parents, myself included, were dressed to play. And so after a half-hour of drills, we took a water break, recruited one of the Comets to play with the dads, and got after it for 20 minutes.

For the first half of that time, I served as our side’s sole defender, a position I glommed onto eagerly in hopes that it would keep me from running much. Alas, R. and her fleet-footed teammates maintained nifty offensive-end pressure, and before long I was sucking wind in a way that mocked reminded me how desperately I need to start working out again. When our goalkeeper — the Comet we had brought to our side — asked to play further upfield, I traded places with her. I squeezed my hands into her goalie gloves and silently prayed that these 4th- and 5th-grade girls would realize I wasn’t wearing a cup.

A couple of scoring opportunities had me hitting the deck to make saves. Sliding on the turf in shorts was not, I should say, a good idea, if the enormous scrape mark that now adorns the area just below my right knee is to be believed. Regardless, I stopped the ball a couple of times and was feeling pretty smug.

And then R. and a couple of other Comets tore back into our zone with the ball. Somebody — I can’t recall who — put it on goal, and I went down to get it. I made the save, but discovered that holding onto the damn thing is nowhere near as easy as it looks. The ball squirted loose, and who was there to bang it home but my beloved offspring, who followed up with exuberant shouting and pounding my back in victory as I lay sprawled on the turf, laughing.

So, though the final score was parents 3, players 1, R. did, in fact, cream me. She played tenaciously, she didn’t give up on the ball, and when the opportunity presented itself, she grabbed it with both hands. Or both feet, I guess.

Take that, Beckham. | DL

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