Monthly Archives: June 2010

Four-year-old Striker Scores in First Match

Tina’s creative juices are flowing as she builds giant contraptions with the Fiddlestix(TM). These nameless inventions began as lights to scare horse-eating monsters, but have taken on a life of their own. Her attention is riveted on functionality (how can I make it stay together?) and design (“This is the most beautiful thing!”).

“If you get ready fast enough we can play for another five minutes before we go,” I promise. Even though Tina gets the promised five minutes and more, there are tears when it’s time to leave for her soccer tournament.

But all grief is forgotten by the time we cross the street, and Tina does her coach proud. Just moments into the game, she scores a goal–on her own team. The crowd cheers and claps, and a grown-up gently suggests the other end of the field. Obligingly, the four-year-old striker soon scores a goal at that end. (Step aside, Tim Cahill?)

Not that it matters much. No one is keeping score.

This is my first soccer tournament for littles (two, three and four years old), and I’m most impressed with the parents. It’s 80 degrees and heat stroke is a real possibility–or so one might think. But Trudy has brought enough icy cold water and cups for her family–and a small army. Sarah is handing out treats. A very small soccer player dispenses watermelon, courtesy of his mom. I am directed to a table where a local restaurant is handing out free backpacks and water bottles to the players. There’s plenty of water, enough for drinking and for cooling waterfights and self-showers.

I am struck by the fact that these parents have not only provided for their own families’ safety and comfort, but for the safety and comfort of others.

My South African doctor is proud that his country is hosting the FIFA World Cup. His country is doing a good job of keeping the peace, and it’s working with other countries and agencies across the world.

He tells me the police of a certain country visited the homes of 3,000 known soccer hooligans and confiscated their passports before this year’s World Cup began. He tells me of 12 hooligans from another country who were sent back home from the airport in Johannesburg.

What do you think? Could these 3,012 people learn something from the soccer moms and dads at Tina’s tournament?

“Care about them [other people] as much as you care about yourselves . . . .”
Philippians 2:4 (Contemporary English Version)


My Mommy's So Happy with Me!

Lisa’s been teaching Tommy to use words, not fists and feet, when he’s angry.

The day care keeps little notebooks on the big juniors like Tommy (age 3). When I pick him up on Thursday, we check his notebook as usual. But what’s this? A little boy pushed Tommy and he responded with “No, thank you.”  Really? “No, thank you”? I’m thrilled, and I tell him so.

Mommy calls and I put Tommy on the phone.

“Tell Mommy what you did,” I urge. He does and she’s impressed.

But what impresses me most is Tommy’s reaction. When he hears the words, “I’m so happy with you!” he tenses his little arms and shakes them. His eyes brighten and his face glows.

“My mommy’s so happy with me!” he rejoices.

Lisa rewards Tommy when she gets home, but that’s really beside the point. Tommy’s delight is in delighting her.

Two thoughts come to mind. Our Lord cautioned us against seeking the praise of people, and He criticized the hypocrites in the synagogues who sounded a trumpet when they gave their offering. “Take heed that ye do not your alms [offering] before men, to be seen of them; otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven,” He warned us in Matthew 6.

But years ago I read a comment by C.S. Lewis that enjoying the praise of another (in its purest form) is not wrong. It simply means we’re happy that we made the other person happy. That’s what I think Tommy was experiencing, and that’s the joy our Lord promises to those who are faithful to Him.

“Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord” (Matthew 25:21).