Sunscreen, Shinguards, and Cleats, Oh My!

Aaron is playing on the junior varsity high school soccer team this year. I can’t remember how many years he’s been playing soccer. Maybe ten? I think his soccer days date back to when he was four and first entered the little recreation leagues we have out here. Since then, he’s moved onto more competitive leagues, obviously, and his goal at this point is to play soccer at the collegiate level. If he puts his mind to it, I think he can do it. What he can’t do, however, is remember to bring his gear.

“Do you have your sunscreen?” I asked several weeks ago. “And all your gear?”

“Yes,” he said. “You don’t have to remind me every time, you know,” he said, in that tone that only fourteen-year-old boys can manage.

“Oh, but I do, honey, I do.”

I can’t remember what he said after that, and it hardly matters, for no more than ten days later, on a night when I had nowhere else to be–lucky for him–I received this text: Can you bring my shin guards to the turf They’re next to my hamper

The lack of terminal punctuation in his texts and the fact that he’d forgotten a please and thank you weren’t the only things that bothered me. What happened to “You don’t need to remind me every time”?

But he’s a good kid: he studies hard, he works hard, and he doesn’t give me too much grief. I brought the shin guards to him.

The next night, he texted me this: I think my cleats are outside drying Can you bring them to the sidewalk next to the field

My jubilation at the fact that he’d taken it upon himself to air out his cleats was tempered by my annoyance at his inability to concentrate on the task at hand. Would he forget his pencil for math class? His Chromebook for English? And as ticked off as I was at being asked, again, to grab his things, I justified bringing them to him because he was at the field for a scrimmage, and his teammates and coaches were counting on him.

When Aaron returned, though, we had a little chat. “You know why I nag you about your soccer things?” I asked him.

“No. Why?”

“Because I need to.”

“No, you don’t—”

“Yes. I do. But I’m not always going to be there you know? Someday, you’ll have to do this all on your own. Let’s try to get you to a place where I don’t have to do this anymore, okay?”


After that, he seemed to get better. The other day, when he had to bring all his gear with him to school because of an early, away game, he even remembered to pack his contacts and contact solution. I was impressed and told him so. He smiled and went on his way, as if he knew something that I didn’t.

I found out yesterday what that something was when he approached the door to leave for practice. “Sunscreen, shin guards, cleats?” Talia asked him.

“Yes,” he said and then rolled his eyes.

Image of soccer ball, shinguards, and cleats by Hucklebarry from

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