Life goes around.
And comes around.
I am reminded of this happy fact via the almost-daily contact I have with my youngest grandsons. I am reminded, too, of my own dad who once shared the reason why he liked being the father of an unexpected child (that's me) when he was nearly 50 years old.
"It was one more chance to have a little fun."
Now I know what he meant.
Whenever I'm at home in Galva, I'm likely to be seen doing what I call my Captain Ahab thing.
No, I'm not actually on the lookout for a great white whale. It's just how I self-describe the back-and-forth pacing I do on our wraparound front porch. That big old structure, which was added by my grandfather back in the early 1900s, is one of my favorite features of our big old house. It's a place where I can keep an eye on the park across the street, just to see what's going on with the younger set.
I especially like it when they're out there playing soccer.
The Galva Soccer Association has been around since back in the early 80's. You might wonder how it happened.
Or you might not.
But in either case, I'm gonna tell you.
It started when son Colin, who was probably all of five or six years old at the time, saw some guys playing the game on TV and expressed some interest in trying it himself.
His mother, who has always believed that it's a parent's job to provide opportunities and expand horizons for children, hit the ground running.
Now, I should probably be glad it was soccer, and not fencing, monster truck driving or sky diving. So instead of having to purchase a bunch of swords, a huge, big-wheeled vehicle or an airplane, we just needed to do one simple thing:
Start a soccer league.
We got some help with sign-ups and insurance from the Kewanee YMCA.
After that, we were pretty much on our own.
We had several moms with top-flight concession stand skills, and my friend Ben was a marvel at designing t-shirts. But we were still missing one little thing that seemed rather important at the time.
Nobody knew anything whatsoever about soccer.
So we looked it up.
I called the game we played that first season "encyclopedia soccer," because most of what we found out came directly from the reference section of that handy bastion of information known as the Galva Public Library.
It was a lot of fun.
While it sometimes got kind of hectic being one of the people who had to recruit coaches and other volunteers, coach a couple of teams myself, find and hire referees, shop for the concession stand, line the field and determine whether we'd manage play on cold, rainy early-spring days, we felt that's just what parents needed to do. And we certainly enjoyed watching all our Galva kids as they gradually learned to play the game pretty well. Both of our sons did it well into high school, with opportunities to compete in leagues in Galesburg, Peoria and the Quad Cities. But they eventually found themselves too busy with high school football and other sports and activities to fit it into their schedule.
We "retired," too, leaving the Galva league in the able, enthusiastic hands of dads and moms with kids who were still involved. We missed it, but have really appreciated the way things have grown and continued, especially when we see kids we coached ourselves now running the show.
That was then, this is now.
We were happy to be on deck to be able to help our youngest grandsons sign up for teams of their own out in North Carolina this year.
It, too, has been a lot of fun.
They've had wonderful coaches and great weather, for the most part. Cyrus is a high-scoring forward for the U-6 Tigers, while John is a 4-year-old member of the Kicks, who like all of his teammates, pretty much roams around the field in a fast-moving, hit-or-miss cluster.
And instead of being coaches, referees, decision-makers and concessionaires, we've just been fun-loving fans.
Or, at least, that's what I thought.
I was waiting for her the other day, anxious to get down to the beach for a little bird-watching, dolphin-spotting and shell-gathering, when she said, "Wait, I've got to make some phone calls."
"Oh?" I asked, "Who do you have to get ahold of?"
"I have to call some of the parents on Cyus' team to ask them to bring snacks for after his games," she replied in that sweet/stubborn tone that just dares me to object.
"I'm the treat lady," she said.
I volunteered," she added.
"Uh oh," I thought. "Here it comes again."
Because what goes around, comes around.