By Jonathan Blaustein
Kids. They grow so fast. Everyone says so.
That said, you’re never really prepared when it happens to you. My son is not-quite-7-and-a-half, and he’s leaving home for the first time today. Off to Mexico for a week with his grandparents.
They’ll take good care of him, sure, and he’ll be back on Sunday. It’s not like he’s headed off to college, or one of those British Boarding Schools. Can you imagine shipping your young child off to some pretentious institution at that age?
No thank you.
Normally, I’d need something to distract me from my creeping anxiety. Sports (or sport) is a great way to transport your mind elsewhere, but it doesn’t exactly offer a respite from stress. Unless you’re playing Villa at home, that is.
No, this weekend I got all fired up for the North London Derby, and hoped it would refocus my mental energy away from feeling like my little boy was all grown up. Come on, fellas. Put those shitty Spurs in their place, and give Daddy a reason not to cry.
That was the hope, at least. And we all know what happened next.
It was as much fun as watching Clive Owen operate on some schlub while jacked up on piles of legal cocaine. All that fake blood oozing out of inner organs, while Soderbergh’s camera zooms in on the viscera. (In “The Knick,” not in real life.) I’d rather have my eyes forced open with toothpicks and be made to stare at the manufactured gore than re-watch that horrible football match.
But I’m not the type to over-react, right? I’m the self-proclaimed “Voice of Reason.” It’s just one game. There will be others, including Leicester tomorrow. I’m sure Arsenal will kick the snot out of those punks, and re-establish their Masters of the Universe Mojo.
At least I hope so.
With respect to the NLD, I’m not sure there’s much I can add. But it was pretty clear to me that Alexis and Ox would have made a huge difference, if fit. Aside from the occasional Welbeck foray, we sorely lacked an aggressive dribbler, tearing off towards the defense like a flash flood.
Once again, derailed by injuries, even when most of the squad is fit. I’m willing to give Santi a pass for his sub-par performance, because homeboy has been a genuine genius. As to Aaron Ramsey, I was happy to slag him off in the early part of the season, and thought he was playing rather well lately. But boy, was he poor.
Boy. There’s that word again. Reminding me that my son will be out in the world, in a foreign country, where I can’t protect him. I thought that stuff would happen later in life, but it’s right up in my grill today, and I don’t like it.
I remember when he was just born. I had no clue how to change a diaper. How do they hand you a little human and expect you to know what to do? And yet, most of us figure it out.
When he was a baby, I hadn’t even heard of Arsenal. I was satisfied with American Football and NBA Basketball. Little did I know the BPL was more physically addicting than high-grade-reefer. (Which we all know only hooks you psychologically…)
I might not be a life-long fan, and neither is my boy. But Ethan sure is.
Who’s Ethan, you ask?
Ethan is a tiny Indonesian dude whose Dad, Marvin, is a massive Gooner. So massive, in fact, that Marvin’s boss bought Ethan a full kit on a recent trip to London. A kit that Marvin just HAD to pull out for the “official professional photo shoot,” Jakarta style.
My first thought was, “Wow. Tim’s really popular in Asia. I wonder why?” My second thought was “So. Damn. Cute.” My third thought was, “I can’t believe my firstborn is all grown up. I want to cry again. Fuck, why am I such a softie?”
This is now the second time that we’re featuring a cute kid as our “Matchday Photo of the Month.” It’s not what I expected, when I began this column, but it’s not entirely inappropriate either. Sports bring families together.
It’s an inherently emotional experience, following a team, building a life-long allegiance to men you’ll never meet. Nothing could be more American, or English, or apparently Indonesian, than watching the match with Dad, giggling while he tries to stifle his potty mouth.
So keep the kiddie photos coming, I say. It’s a great reminder that we do care about things beyond our favorite footballer. And that the games are always more fun when you’ve got a buddy to watch them with.
Our runner up this month comes from Ika Radzran, in Malaysia. (What, you thought I was exaggerating about our Asia-heavy demo?) Not surprisingly, everyone loves Alexis these days. Heal up, Chilean Stallion, because we’re sure as hell gonna need both of your hamstrings through May.
If you would like to see your work featured here send your match day photos to firstname.lastname@example.org