This week my son started pre-school as I am transitioning to a new job (don’t panic, i’ll still be here on this site giving you all you need to know about Soccer), and I’ve had time to reflect on how far he’s come as a soccer fan.
Fittingly the first game of his life was a Manchester derby, albeit a largely uneventful one. There were no overhead bicycle kicks. There were no 98th minute winners. There weren’t even any goals. Before the 1-0 loss to Chelsea on February 3rd it was the most recent time City had been shut out at home. To put that in perspective, I watched City get shut out with my 7 days old infant son in my arms and the next time they were shut out at home he was asking me questions about the Cold War and reciting Simpsons quotes.
There aren’t really that many Manchester City fans in the USA so I decided, using my fatherly wisdom (or lack thereof if you know anything about what supporting City is like) to declare him a City fan from birth. Much to my dismay he is already starting to reject this. As we were watching Liverpool dismantle Arsenal several weeks ago he put down his waffle and said to me “I’m going to join up with the yellow team” (Arsenal were wearing their yellow 3rd jerseys that day). He’s 3, so he has what would otherwise be a disturbing affinity for violence, and once he saw that Arsenal not only has a cannon on their crest but that they’re nicknamed the “Gunners” he was hooked. Now when my wife tries to get him to say something cute, starting up the City chant “Who’s the best team in the land and all the world? ” he says “Arsenal?”. I’ve already started shaking my head at the boy.
My Facebook profile pic is of me holding him in the air in a manner similar to Carlos Tevez holding up the FA Cup, City’s first trophy in 34 years. Already in his short life City have won the Premier League, the FA Cup (and lost in a final), the League Cup, and the Community Shield. They’ve beaten Manchester United four times, including two straight at Old Trafford (something that hasn’t happened since 1973). He was with my wife and I at The Banshee in Dorchester Massachusetts to see City win 6-1 at Old Trafford (yes, I had “a baby, in a bar“, but it was Sunday and they don’t serve alcohol until 11 so I pretended it was a restaurant).
Watching the midweek international friendlies this week by myself gave me a chance to reflect on how far my little buddy has come. He’s already come a long way. At The Banshee he’d actually cry every time City scored, because he had no way of predicting when 40 or so people would all of a sudden start screaming. Now he’s actually able to tell me when someone’s scored a goal if i’m not in front of the tv. And he knows that if i’m watching City and they score that I’m coming over to him for a high five (those 6-0 and 7-0 matches earlier this season were good practice).
I’m going to miss him stomping down the stairs after waking up from his afternoon nap to find me on the couch watching a midweek afternoon match. No more chuckling to myself as he pounds water out of his sippy cup as he gets himself acclimated to being awake again, looking back at me and wondering why I’m twisting the hell out of my chin hairs over a Tuesday afternoon game (it’ll take a while to explain to him what the Champions League is and why it’s actually more important than the weekend matches). And while i’m a bit sad at the realization that all of that is over with, he couldn’t care less, because he’s at a pre school with “these tiny trucks and some blocks and stuff and there’s these scissors that you use to cut things and then you can have cheez-its for snack with these girls and there’s a computer that………”.