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Puss n’ boots…

October 5, 2010

He speaks again softly…

I can’t make out the words,

nor do I want to…

He cries,

and in it I hear the fear of his loneliness…

I lean down into the ground and hug this presence that has joined us,

hug Elijah like a baby in my arms,

holding on as long as I can before I must let go…

The matatosowin goes still…

Over the murmur of the hot stones Nephew whispers goodbye to his friend,

and then it is just the two of us here once again…

— in Three Day Road by Joseph Boyden

Winter soccer season is upon us,

and Starshine is in her second year of it…

She told me,

after her first meeting with her new team,

Mama,

I just want to thank you ahead of time,

for driving me to my practices,

and all of my games…

And getting up to be on the field with me,

at 7:45 on a Sunday morning,

because I know how much you love to sleep in…

I really think this is going to be MY team…

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again,

contrast is critical for learning…

It helps us develop the skill and practice of discernment…

And this team is a whole other world from what I witnessed last year,

right from the start…

The coach is serious,

and he makes all the girls show up,

on time,

prepared to perform,

as he says,

Each with your own skill…

I had to laugh,

out loud,

in the sunshine,

when I heard him speak to the future,

with a frustration,

mirroring my own,

Girls,

at next practice,

we’re going to work on listening…

Starshine isn’t built for speed,

but she’s growing her endurance,

and with her size,

she’s the Georges Laraque of U12 girls soccer…

This past Sunday morning I saw players on the opposing team,

trip,

and flip themselves,

as they met up with a leg,

she’d planted in defence…

I’ve always told her,

one day you’re going to know why you were given the body you have,

thanks to your grampa…

And one day,

you’re going to meet someone with the same size feet as you,

and you’re going to get her great shoes when she hands them down…

This made her smile,

and hope…

When Starshine thinks she’s hurt someone,

on the field,

she cries,

for her own pain,

for the pain of the injured player,

for the adult reactions,

and for the invisible she feels,

on the sidelines,

all at once…

That is a huge charge to compress,

and load through your wiring,

grounding the information in the here and now,

for the good of the whole…

I’m not speaking from theory,

I’m speaking from my own experience…

Yesterday,

when I dropped her off at practice,

some of the other mothers were talking about how Starshine did not give up,

at the game on Sunday…

They said,

She never stopped moving,

and she watches everything…

She can see possibilities of how things are going to play themselves out…

They wanted to know if she was okay after the game,

because she had cried…

I told them,

She was fine…

She tells me after every practice,

and game,

how much she loves playing soccer…

But she still doesn’t know what it means,

when she’s been told she played well,

or what she’s done that was good…

And I don’t know enough about the game,

and what she’s doing to tell her…

But what I do know is that the feeling work she’s doing,

and amplifying out there,

is equally important…

And until I grow my knowledge about this game,

that way of being in the world,

is where I direct my encouragement…

The two moms said,

She’s a girl…

That’s how girls are…

I said,

Boys are like that too…

They disagreed,

emphatically,

and across the board…

I watched the field around me,

with a husband or two,

the coach tying up his cleats,

and I chose not to mention the war…

One thing I have been very pleased about,

in this,

and last season’s Battle of the Blades,

is that the retired hockey players,

participating in this marriage of two sports,

that have historically set themselves up,

to oppose each other,

don’t ask to have their vulnerability,

and sensitivity,

edited out,

of interviews,

for the sake of perpetuating stereotypes…

I’ve been judged and criticized,

for my tears,

since I was a baby…

Being a girl wasn’t a good enough reason,

for crying,

and considered a sign of weakness,

in an adult world,

that orients itself,

on the false center of suppression…

The equipment required,

to measure the strength,

and courage it takes,

to open up the faucet,

as a middle-aged man,

on national television,

when you’ve been known,

in the big leagues,

as an enforcer,

has been here since the dawn of time…

Long before the opening of the first academy…

And poetry is the word for it…

There’s a song I heard today,

on JR Country,

about how tequila makes her clothes,

fall off…

My recipe for undressing the defense,

is a tumbler full of love,

trust,

patience,

and respect…

All served up on the rocks…

I heard Starshine’s coach,

lament about how the rain had put him two steps back,

and he was hopefully going to be spending his weekend,

not watching football,

but finishing up the deck…

Another dad asked him if he was going membrane…

A mom said,

Let’s leave them to their guy talk…

I didn’t want to leave them to their guy talk,

because I’m equally interested in

permeability,

layers of separation,

protection,

and pericardial memory…

Looks like we made it... (artwork by Kanishka)

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