After posting What is Soccer About, Anyway?, Liam got a lot of positive attention for the way he cared for his fallen teammate. A confusing phenomenon for him considering the praise was coming from people who weren't actually at the game.........they, of course, came from the blogosphere. But the support and encouragement made an impact on him. And providing that comfort and care to hurt players (which happens a lot at 3rd grade games) is now something he does very consciously and consistently.
At the last game, the tears came from a kid on the on the other team, a kid with GLASSES who got smacked in the face with the ball. Ouch. Liam ran to his opponent's side and put his arm around him. And then do you know what happened?
..........other boys from Liam's team also ran over and patted him on the back and asked if he was ok. And ultimately walked him off the field. A little pod of 9 year olds, consoling him and gently escorting him to the side.
It was a beautiful thing to watch.
After the game, Liam re-told the story of the injured opponent (because now he knows this is special behavior). Then a fellow teammate appeared on his heels. He got in my face, jumped up and said, "Yeah! Me too! I mean, Liam was there first but then I came and I helped that boy, too!"
I don't what he's been saying to these kids, but somehow Liam has managed to convince them that caring is cool - a phrase that seems like it could only come out of the mouth of a nerdy youth pastor trying to get down ("Jesus is jammin'!") - but it holds true, nonetheless.
Caring is cool......
They've won only a single game since the season began in October. And the ref often stops recording the goals scored against them to ease the humiliation. But a much bigger set of skills may be taking root......
That being said, this area is not known for its kindness, even among children. So maybe this caring is cool thing won't last. But I'm comforted by the idea that maybe people will think of Liam after we move away and they'll say "Yeah, he was that nice kid." And then they'll turn and do something nice.
Because caring is cool.