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We spent the night with friends in Eureka. This morning my daughter needed to get outside so we walked over to the playground by the tennis courts on E between 14th and 15th. There are just a few play structures there, but enough to keep her occupied for a half hour or so.

One of the structures is a little playhouse with a plastic sink and stove inside. Somebody melted the front of it, apparently going to the trouble of bring an acetelyne torch. My daughters asked where are “the things you turn it on with?” I had to explain that someone removed them.

“Who did it?” my three-year-old asked, probably more curious about why.

How do you explain it? That somebody, probably an angry teenager who had gotten into his father’s stuff thought he’d leave a mark? Was it a momentary satisfaction, or does he take satisfaction in his work whenever he walks by? More likely he’s moved on to other projects, leaving the benefits of his creativity to the kids.

Vandalism is senseless in general, but to mess up a children’s playground seems particularly low. Obviously there are much worse crimes and maybe I’m differentiating because I’m a parent. But I have to wonder about the person. What experiences in his life does he lean on for the proposition that he has the right to do something like that. How does he view his place in the world? Does he have hopes or dreams of his own? Is he underprivileged? Overprivileged? Neglected? Frustrated? Dead to the world? It took some deliberation and planning, so you can’t chalk it up to a sudden drunken impulse.

Fortunately, it didn’t ruin my daughter’s day. A few minutes later she was cackling wildly as I pushed her on the swing.

I concluded my first season of kids’ soccer coaching today. My kids went undefeated all season, but we’re not supposed to make a big deal of that. It was a fun, wet, muddy game for the kids. My son kicked two goals, but we’re not supposed to make a big deal of that.

At the end of the game we met back at my house for a big team breakfast and trophies. The kids were really proud of themselves, and they were right to be. Not only did they win all their games (we’re not supposed to make a big deal of that – fortunately none of the kids are likely to read this blog, even if they can read it), but they showed exceptional sportsmanship in every game, not counting a few meltdowns natural for children 4 to 6. They would compliment players on the other team who made goals (yes, I asked them to do that, but it came naturally to them). And by the end of the season, they weren’t playing “bunch ball.” They were passing! Like, real passes. The stronger players passed to the others. And everybody hustled back to the goal to defend whenever someone on the opposite team broke it open – every Blue Shark on the field.

My son goes up into the next age bracket next year. The field and the goals are a little bigger, they have a goalie, and a couple of additional players on the field. Not sure I have the experience to coach that level, but in two years my daughter starts playing and maybe I’ll coach her team.

Meanwhile, the coaches had a special dinner in our honor at the Moose Lodge in Cutten tonight. My wife and I were the only Sohum representatives, but we had a lot of fun. The Lodge has an open flame outdoor (semi-indoor) grill where we brought our own steaks and I witnessed an amusing debate about how long it takes for medium rare which evolved into a debate about what actually constitutes medium rare. Lots of coaches were huddled in this smokey plexi-glass room while it rained outside. I enjoyed what it apparently the Moose Lodge ritual as much as the meal itself.

And my wife won a sweatshirt in the raffle.

A nice ending to a fun season. I have great respect for the people who put the soccer league together. You actually have to sign a contract in which you agree that you’re only going to make positive comments to the kids at a game, which addresses problems I’ve witnessed in other youth sports venues, including some bad experiences in little league back when they actually sold beer at the concessions booth.

Did I mention that my kids went undefeated? We’re not supposed to make a big deal about that.

Image comes from CYSA’s local site. (note – it’s not supposed to be that blurry, but it’s the best I can do. If you click on it, it shrinks to the right size. Sometimes it spins and sometimes it doesn’t. Don’t ask me why.)


November 2007