On his way out the door this morning, Riley stopped and sheepishly asked me, “Mom? Can you pick me up from school early today?”
“Why?” I’ve never picked him up early before.
Riley puts both of his hands up, a gesture imploring me to stop being unreasonable, “No, listen. Listen. OK? “
“Oooh, this should be good.”
“Don’t laugh. Don’t laugh?” But he’s laughing, so clearly he knows whatever he is about to say will sound absurd.
“Not laughing. Just…smiling.”
“OK. It’s the UEFA finals, and it’s on at 2:45, and if I get home from the bus at 4:30 I’ll miss the whole game.”
“The UE.. The what?”
“United European Football Association. It’s BARCELONA VERSUS MANCHESTER UNITED!!!” Says the little American boy.
“BARCELONA VERSUS MANCHESTER UNITED! Why didn’t they cancel school? What were they thinking?” Now I’m laughing.
‘Mom. I’m serious, can you?”
“You’re asking me to take you out of school to watch European soccer?
“Can you? It’s the finals.”
“Not the FINALS!”
I love the way my boys sometimes make “Mom” a rebuke, a command, a judgement. I am so immature, how can they work with this? How can we have a serious discussion about forgoing school in order to watch a soccer game on TV, when I won’t address the subject with the proper gravitas?
But how can I say no? He’s laughing, but I know he wouldn’t ask if this weren’t important to him. This is, after all, a boy who asked to be beaten instead of grounded so he wouldn’t miss playing a soccer game.
All the boys have been promised an international trip when they are thirteen. Jake spent the summer based in The Netherlands, shooting out from there to visit the surrounding countries. Riley’s only request has been that his trip includes European soccer, and maybe the chance to wear a kilt. He doesn’t care where he goes, or how long he stays, as long as a big soccer game is involved. It would be heaven if that soccer game involved violent, passionate crowds, police needed to impose order, and several spectators hospitalized. He’s a bit disgusted with American sports fans being so reasonable.
After making sure he has solid A’s in the classes he will miss, I agree to spring the boy early.
“Two o’clock, ” Riley says, “and tell them it’s a doctor’s appointment?”
“I’m writing “Barcelona vs. Manchester United” on the dismissal form.”
“Mom. Doctor’s appointment?”
“Take your chances,” I say.
He will, because it’s BARCELONA VERSUS MANCHESTER UNITED!!!! , and there’s not much he wouldn’t do for soccer.