My six-year old son played soccer for the first time this summer. At his first practice, I dropped him off and watched from the fence as he lingered on the sideline, right cleat atop his ball, and watched the others enthusiastically drilling their shots into the small net. His coach greeted him with a warm hello; my son looked at him, but said nothing, still moving the ball back and forth slightly under his foot.
During the Red Light-Green Light drill, while others in the group shot toward the far cones as if drawn by a magnet, my son moved down the field – tap, tap, left foot, right foot. At first, he appeared lethargic, but then, I realized he was simply being cautious, his eyes fixed on the ball to make sure he never lost possession. His coach moved behind him and urged him on, shaking his head at my son’s turtle’s pace. But, as I expected he would, my son continued dribbling steadily down the field. I had to grin. Nothing that coach did or said was going to change the way my son dribbled.
Earlier this year, during a family overnight trip to Niagara Falls, he won a bundle of tickets at one of those arcades and chose to trade them in for a superhero pen and notebook set. Though he had barely learned to form his letters, he set about recording the previous day’s events meticulously in that little book. You should see the few sentences he wrote about seeing the waterfalls and dinner at the Rainforest Cafe. They veer and wobble across the page like an out of control automobile, but there’s such passion, such commitment to recording his world in a notebook. It reminds me a lot of myself as a boy. I found myself wondering where it comes from – this instinct to record experiences, to use writing as a way to make sense of the world.