I knew Malachi was intense from before he was born. After all, I progressed from 2 cm to 10 cm in less than 10 minutes of transitional labor. When he was not quite able to crawl, and he'd yowl every time I dared take a single step away from him, I felt his intensity. When he was two years old and defying me with every fiber of his being, he was intense. Years have gone by and with those energy-draining baby and toddler years in the past, Malachi's really channeled his intensity into activities that are much more enjoyable, which means, in my humanity, that I don't notice it as much. He's a mostly quiet boy, especially around people he doesn't know very well.
The first year Malachi played soccer we were pleased if he got one touch on the ball in a game. He liked to play, but he just wasn't aggressive at all. I wished he'd be himself out there, but the truth was, his shyness took over and he was just too nice. The second year was better for him, and he usually kicked the ball a few times per game. Last year he was like a different player. He'd get in the action and really play hard. With Daddy as his coach, he blossomed and had a great year. It's now his fourth year and that kid can really play. I mean, he's one of the best players on his team, and also one of the youngest. He is serious about soccer, and he's easily the best defender in every game we've watched this season. He's not at all afraid to step in front of a boy twice his size and steal the ball.
Today though, there was a really amazing moment in the game. Both teams were playing aggressively, and there was a bit of foul play going on that the ref wasn't noticing. Just as Malachi ran close to us on the side of the field, flanked by two elbowing players from the opposite team, my son glared at them and said, "Hey! No pushing!" and kept about his play. I have tears in my eyes just writing about it. It was the first time I looked at my son with true admiration. I could never confront someone that way, stand up for myself so clearly. In that moment, his short life flashed before my eyes - his angry cries when I dared leave him in the nursery at church, his defiant eyes when I disagreed with his plans as a toddler . . . and the words of dear friends of ours, Jim and Ginny Smith, when I was about to give up: "You will be so thankful someday that God has blessed your son with a strong spirit." If it took 8 years and an AYSO soccer game to prove them right, it's ok. What a miracle to have a glimpse into the intense, strong, true and fair spirit of my unbelievable boy. I'm so proud of you, son.