No camera or cellphone at hand but the picture sits bright in my mind: There on a grassy field sit Paterfamilias and his 9-year-old Grand, their knees drawn up, their baseball-capped heads close together.
They have come to the little neighborhood park near Alpha Daughter's house so PF could show his Grand some of the basics about kicking a soccer ball. During our weekend visit to celebrate Alpha Daughter's birthday, we also had the pleasure of watching our Grand play soccer. She is new to the game and, not to put too fine a point on it, it showed. PF, who's been playing and watching soccer all his life--a star on his college team, no less--saw her problem as a lack of technique. I, who know about soccer only by watching Uber Son and then his children play the game, saw things differently: She was clueless about the game--seemed to have no idea where to kick the ball once she stuck out her foot and got it on the ball.
So this moment in the park was found gold: a women's league game was underway--high school and college graduates who loved to play were running up and down the field trying to kick or head the ball between the goal posts. As Alpha Daughter, my grandpup and I set off for a walk, PF and Grand sat down to study the game. Head to head they sat, watching soccer. By the time we got back from our two-mile walk, PF had his favorite player picked out--#40--and was letting his little pupil know what #40 was doing that was outstanding, which passes were effective--and which were not and why.
We think our Grand came away from soccer in the park with at least a minimal understanding of what the game is about and what players--even players her size--are supposed to do when they are on the pitch. But more important than that was the bond between gramps and Grand--sharing knowledge, figuring things out together, sitting cap to cap and talking to each other.
Celebrating our daughter's birthday with her was wonderful--it meant a lot to us to be there for those few days. But the real gift of the weekend was the soccer moment at the park.