Monday, June 18, 2012

It Doesn't Get Any Better Than This: The Dream Lives of Papa Madre and the AngloArabAsian Brothers

It Doesn't Get Any Better Than This: The Dream Lives of Papa Madre and the AngloArabAsian Brothers
Excerpt from Chapter 21

Tai’s soccer season began, and I took him to practice in a black Cadillac Escalade, a red Lexus SC 430 Roadster, and on my booming Ducati Monster motorcycle. At 6 years old, he practiced two days a week with his team and two days a week with me.  

He gets it all. I'm talking a lot, explaining about self-confidence, how it works. I told him some of the words he'd be hearing in sports—choke, underdog, cocky, focus, heart—and what they mean. I emphasized heart, how important it is, how it can enable an underdog to beat a cocky team if they focus and don't choke.  

Heart can wear down an opponent, even #1. But it’s tricky to maintain the right attitude, to balance it: Never think you're number one, but never believe you can't win. You may be number one on your team, in your town, but somewhere there's somebody better than you, at least until you're world champion. And even then, the underdog might beat you in the next game. 

He scored two goals in the team’s first game, which they won 3-2. He gets concepts like greed and responsibility and ego and modesty as they relate to team play, he listens so well and does what he's told.  

For another game we piled into a yellow Ford Ranger pickup, and drove up to Parkdale Elementary School with a stunning view of Mt. Hood looming over the playground, crystal white against the blue summer sky. Weathered barn next door, view of Mt. Adams too. Maks sat on my shoulders for most of the game. It was magical.  

The Blue Dolphins got killed 6-0 by the Black Beetles from Parkdale. They were semi-pro 6-year-olds, 90 percent Mexican boys. Couldn't believe how skilled they were, how well disciplined, how well coached. Tai got dominated by a slick Mexican kid with a gold chain. 

The beautiful thing is, Tai was excited after the game, and wanted to improve. They left us in the dust! he said. I said Yeah, they kicked your butts.  

I said remember how I told you, just when you start to think you're pretty hot, you come up against someone who's bigger, stronger, faster, smarter? The important thing is to challenge yourself to get that big, strong, fast, tough, smart, whatever. And you can do it, it just takes more practice. The Black Beetles weren't better than you, they just played soccer better because they played it more. 

Just realized, Tai is my best friend. Actually. If the definition of best friend is the person you would most like to hang out with, the person you spend most of your time with, it's Tai. And when Maks is a couple years older, it'll be the same with him.  



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