This past weekend was very special to me for a couple of reasons. My Barcelona beat Real Madrid 3-1 at the Bernabeu and my 10-year-old son completely surprised me with a precocious new love for soccer.
For you to understand the connection you have to know a few things about us. When Barca play Madrid my anxiety is as high as Hunter S. Thompson in Vegas.
My hands tremble and I pace back and forth the entire 90 minutes. Every bad pass raises my blood pressure bit by bit.
Don’t even think about having a conversation or asking for something during said match. Those of you who have kids might understand why stress management is vital during a Clasico.
Just seconds before kick-off my son asked me to make him something to eat. I said, “Didn’t I just feed you?”
My son replied, “that was four hours ago and Dad, Real Madrid just scored after 23 seconds.” I quickly sighed, “well I am not going to watch them celebrate so let’s cook you something real quick Buddy.”
My son doesn’t really watch soccer that often. It’s on 24/7 in our household and sometimes he’ll sit with me for a few minutes while I watch.
He’s your typical 10-year-old. He loves his cartoons, action figures, and video games. He’s quite rambunctious but can be very articulate at times.
We had just finished eating our soup when Alexis Sanchez scored in the 29th minute. I screamed, “Yes Yes Yes!” and my son interrupted with “Dad it’s just canned soup.”
I told him that Barca just equalized and he asked me “why don’t you just say they’re tied?”
He’s very observant. He grabbed some of his action figures and played quietly on the floor next to me.
I caught him watching the game every few minutes as the tension grew. When Xavi scored in the 53rd minute I ran through the house screaming while my son embarrassingly shook his head.
In hind sight this outrageous celebration of emotion may have just hooked my son on the beautiful game.
As the match went on I began to notice my boy was sighing when Madrid had shots on goal. I couldn’t quite tell if he wanted Madrid to score or if the flinches were nervousness.
I didn’t press the issue because I wanted to see where this was headed.
In the 66th minute Dani Alves put a beautiful cross in the box which new signing Cesc Fabregas headed into goal. My son and I jumped up and simultaneously shouted, “GOOOOOAAAAAL!”
We slapped each other high-five then we clenched our fists and shook them high above our heads. The excitement and joy I seen in his face was priceless.
My smile exceeded all expectations. He asked, “why are you still smiling?” I replied, “ Son, you’re a Barca fan now.”
We both sat back and enjoyed the final minutes of this seasons first el Clasico. When it was over my son told me that he now understands why I am such a fanatic. He also wants to watch other matches together.
This may have been the hardest thing I have ever tried to write about. The emotion behind the connection I made with my son through soccer is beyond just these few sentences.
Perhaps a poet would have been better off explaining.
Maybe I should let my son tell it in his words.
As he ran off to play video games he said, “I get why you call it equalizing, it’s the same as why some call it futbol. It’s just cooler.”
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