Wednesday, May 03, 2006

The Boy in the Blue Shirt


My son is 17... about to finish up his junior year in high school ... already has a college all picked out (assuming they shower him in scholarships, that is). Facing his all-too-imminent departure from the nest, I find myself reflecting on his younger years a lot lately. A few things really stick in my mind - some good, some bad. This is one of the very good memories:

It was at the first practice for his YMCA soccer team: 14 little boys (5 years old), two volunteer coaches, and a bunch of parents met at a park in our neighborhood for the first time. The boys were full of energy and excited to learn about soccer and meet new friends. The parents were apprehensive of one another, supportive of the experience, and we all knew OUR child would be a soccer star someday. ;)

The boys played and practiced for over an hour. At the end of the session, the coach gathered them around and told them what would be expected of them in terms of practices, games, etc., and then dismissed them. My son came running up to my husband and I all out of breath and so excited. "I had the BEST time! All these guys are so cool, but I REALLY like the kid in the blue shirt! He's funny, he knows soccer, and I think we'll be great friends!" I looked over the group of boys and saw several in blue shirts, so I asked "Which 'boy in the blue shirt' are you talking about, hon?" "The one right over there, Mom," he said, pointing to the right, "in the blue shirt!" My husband and I looked at each other and smiled. "Oh, OK, hon, I see who you mean." Somehow, we had managed to raise a 5 year-old who saw 'blue shirts' instead of skin color. His new friend was the only African-American boy on the team, and the two of them did indeed become fast friends and remain good friends to this day, even with 500 miles in between them.

I think back to "the boy in the blue shirt" and smile ... maybe we did something right in the course of raising this young man...at least, I hope so.

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