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10 May 2011

Variations on a Similar Theme

 (Also known as: Further Travails of a Footer Mom) 
My second son is ‘different’. Really and truly different.  With a penchant for music and ballet and dancing, and building blocks and putting on one-act plays and puppet shows – with different voices for different characters. He also likes to run around madly in the backyard irritating our dog – he shoots him with a water gun.

My friends know we are a football family. For newcomers: Football – noun; a game that is called soccer in the US, since football here consists of men running around in tights and helmets, with the ball in their hands (you can see I am well-trained). Son1 had spent 12 years playing for the town, various clubs and the State’s Olympic Development Programme. 

So, when the auspicious time came, Son2 was also enrolled in the town’s little league. He went happily, as he goes anywhere – after all, what’s not to love about football? He gets to run around madly, he loves the company of other little children, and he does have an affinity for dribbling with the ball. His brother is proud of him.

The spring season began, and a couple of weeks went by. Son2 had his footer practice one evening and informed his elder brother that he had a 'match'. To my older son, football is a religion.  One where you bow down and worship at the altar of the game. Where the great players are the high priests and the pitch is the temple.

So Son1 told his younger brother to play well and win the game. Son2, putting on his shin pads and cleats said very calmly, "It does not matter if you win or lose chetta." Once Son 1 had picked his jaw up from the floor, he proceeded to disabuse his younger brother of such unmitigated new-age learnings. I mean, you need to play to win is what he croaked when he finally got his voice back.

Son 2 is adamant that it is not important. The argument is increasing in intensity, so he appeals to the high court, namely moi. "It does not matter if you win or lose, right, amma? You should have fun!" Amma is caught in a fix. Amma is naturally competitive and words like these are tantamount to heresy. Amma has never played a game in her life without wanting to win. Son 1 is meanwhile appealing on his own behalf. "You really need to rid him of such rubbish, amma! He cannot go through life with such a wimpy attitude."

Wimpy amma, meanwhile, is wavering between agreeing that the game is more important than winning or losing, and teaching Son2 that life really does not condone the lack of competition. Not knowing how to walk the fine line between two such contradictory views, wimpy amma  compromises. "You need to play to win, Son2, and then the result can be whatever it is." Neither plaintiff nor defendant is happy with Solomon's judgement.

Son1 walks off in disgust. Son2 is supremely confident in his own views. There is very little that fazes him. And wimpy amma shakes her head over her younger son – what’s to become of him? And looks even more closely at him – am I even sure he is mine?

Long story short, practice was over. And when his father came home, I narrated the story, becoming more and more confident that there has been some mistake - Son2 is completely hop-out-o'-the-kin. I have always been slightly suspicious that the babies had been switched in NICU; he is so different from the rest of us. And someone who comes up with "It does not matter if we win or lose" really cannot be our son.

His father concurs, and informs Son2 patiently that you need to play to win. That is the only way to play. Son2 is not convinced. "Some people feel sad when they lose, acha." His achan hopes to drive the point home. So he says, "Yes, and they are happy when they win." In a bid to sign, seal and deliver the argument, I chime in, "Would you rather be happy or sad?" Son2 is completely unabashed. "I'm happy even when I lose, amma. I don't want my friends to be sad." And he turns back to watching the Nutcracker Suite.

As his father and I look at each other in dismay, it's game, set, and match to Son2. 

(I am positive this is not my son.)

© Anuradha Warrier  &; Sameeksha (May 2011)


  1. You can't ask the hospital for a complete refund? ;) He does seem unusually wise - is that still not a trait you'd associate with your family? :D

  2. Meanie!

    I do not think the hospital will take him back. (Well, if they are wise, they won't.)

    He really is a character unto himself, actually. Son1 is sure that he will eventually become the POTUS. Or a successful bank robber. Or both.

    I have yet to find *one* person who will say something other than 'He's cute' or 'He's adorable', or "What a cute little boy." In fact, when he was three, and we had taken him to the pet shop to buy food for our dog, he was playing with the owner's lab, and she looked at him said 'You are cute!' and he turned back and said very matter of factly "I know." LOL She asked me very quietly whether he actually knew what he was saying. I am quite sure he did.

  3. Take it from me, he is enlightened!
    Put him on the altar and worship him!

  4. Harvey, he will take that as a matter of due course. :) It wouldn't faze him *one* bit!

  5. Ha ha ha! (actually, the laughter is more from the comic relief after the last posts I read!) Your son sounds amazing! I hope school (and life) does not take that self-confidence away from him!

  6. I doubt *anything* is going to take his self-confidence away! He truly is a character, and I can foresee (bigger) squalls ahead as he steps into his teens.

  7. Omigosh! He is definitely a cutie! I so want to come there right now and give him a big hug and a smacker on his cheeks - he reminds me of my older son, who told a friend, " yes, I know I am smart, my mom told me so!", and a little of my younger son, who even now will maintain that it is more important to be happy than to make money, and since he is happiest when reading books, rather than when he has to go to work daily, he would rather sit in a library and read books!


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