Thursday, April 30, 2009

On The Field

As you guys know, I'm the assistant coach for Eli 7.8's soccer team, and we have practice on Thursdays. I really enjoy working with the kids, with one exception. There's almost always one exception in any group of kids, but this exception is much worse than normal.

Here's a story that explains all you need to know about this kid (let's call him "Tony"). We're doing a drill, and Tony is doing whatever he wants to instead, which is what he does most of the time (and his dad actually helps out at practice, and he generally ignores his dad, too). It was a passing drill, and one of the balls rolled back against a large rock that's beyond the border of the field.

At the base of this rock was an absolutely huge fire ant mound. Bad, bad business. So I pointed out the mound and warned the kids to stay away.

Within thirty seconds, Tony has stepped into the mound. Wait, not stepped into it--he stomped on it. On purpose. It was incredibly lucky that he didn't wind up covered in fire ants.

That's just what he's like. He'll do anything, just to piss off a grown-up.

It annoys the hell out of me, because all the other kids really try hard in practice and he's incredibly disruptive, but I try not to let it show. The kids don't like him, either, because he'll yell in their faces or throw the ball at their heads. He's just kind of bizarrely inappropriate, like a kid who's never been around another kid in his whole life and doesn't know how to act.

He's even yelled in my face before, then threw a ball at my head fifteen seconds later, and I took him out of practice and sat him down for a few minutes. He started crying as soon as he was actually being punished, instead of just being warned.

It's the kind of behavior that I'm just never around, because Eli is the easiest kid in the world to hang out with. Evey time I see Tony do something insane, I remind myself how lucky I am that I got the awesome kid.

At first, I kind of held Tony's dad responsible, because it's easy to just let stuff go and not stop it early, and I figured that's what happened. I've watched them together, though, and his Dad really doesn't let him get away with that much. Clearly, he's trying, and it must be really frustrating to have a son who just doesn't listen.

If you're wondering if Tony has some kind of disability, I don't think so (although I've never asked his dad, because that's a very sensitive topic to broach). He doesn't seem to have one, anyway, as far as I can tell. He just seems incredibly willful in a really negative way.

We were on our way back from practice, and I wanted to stop at the Burger King drive-through and get some Burger Shots (they're really good). Gloria said something dismissive that had the phrase "just Burger King" in it.

"Hey, that 'just' is perjorative," I said. "Are you a burgerist?"

They were delicious, by the way.

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