Larger than life

April 29,2008
Skaddadle
Todd Lieman( )
I have a friend who is a daily fixture on televisions around the world. His wife is also a noted celebrity who spends plenty of time on the small screen. Their kids love watching mommy and daddy on TV. Yesterday, I saw a feature about a Major League baseball player that featured his kids. They loved going to the ballpark and hanging out with dad. I was even a little jealous of the kids, as they got to run around the locker room and hang out with all the players. The fact is – these kids grow up with dads who are larger than life.

When I was a kid, my dad played on an adult soccer team. He sucked (sorry, Dad, it’s true), but it was fun to go see him play. I mean, there he was in his uniform and cleats. He was on a team. He was just like the guys on TV. They were on teams, too. Fact is, he was larger than life, too. In a different way, but still larger than life.

I played soccer for 30 years – from the age of 5 until 35. I was pretty good, too. I played in high school, a bit in college and in all kinds of adult leagues thereafter. And, I have the injuries to prove it. Back, legs, knees, fingers, hands, head – you name it, I tweaked, tore and broke it. I haven’t played in five years, but now that K-Man is pushing three years old, I find myself with the itch to get back on the pitch.

As much as I love the sport and want to get back out there for the exercise and camaraderie, I also want to play so I can glance over on the sideline and see K-Man watching. Although G brought Harley to a few of my games years ago, it’s just not the same. Don’t get me wrong, I love my dog, but he didn’t yell, “Go, Daddy!” as I imagine K-Man would.

I was a pretty good player back in the day. Though I was short for a goalie (at a mere 5’9”), I could fly and surprisingly get to quite a few shots that seemed out of reach. Most importantly, I had great hands. I could and would catch anything that came near my fingertips. Just once (okay, twice, three times…a lot) I’d like to have one of those amazing saves with K-Man watching. I still think of some of those saves (most notably the free kick I saved during my first game back after three months of rehabbing a broken leg). I want K-Man to see me as larger than life.

There’s just something kind of cool about knowing that your kid is looking at you with such awe and (in his own way) pride. There’s the “That’s my dad” look in his eyes, which I’m sure I used to have in mine when I watched my own dad play. (Even when he let a slow, dribbling ball roll between his legs for a goal.) It may very well be, but I don’t think it’s a vanity thing. I think it’s just one of those father-son moments that I often think about (sort of like how I couldn’t wait for K-Man to walk so I could get that picture of me holding his hand – taken from behind us). I might just have to find a team to play on – even just to play one game.

This is a fleeting time, obviously. K-Man will start playing on his own teams (if he wants to) and, at that time, I’ll be the one watching…swelling with pride. Don’t mistake this as my becoming the obsessed, crazy parent who is yelling, screaming and ringing a cowbell. No. I’m just talking about watching with a great sense that we share yet another experience together. My dad played. I played. And, someday it will be K-Man’s turn.

If and when he steps onto that field, the tables may very well be turned  – and K-Man will be the one who is larger than life.