Stick with Your Goals...
We play soccer!!
The skies are forbidding but it's not actually raining, so we grab a kid-size nerf soccer ball and head to the small field at the base of our street. Further venturing under such lowering skies is not wise, but surely we can burn off some of their copious energy a block from home.
The grass is ankle high (mid-calf for them) and wet, but the ball bounces just the same. Off they go! (All except Arthur. Call it perverse if you will (I know I certainly do) but the boy who never walks if he can run-like-an-elephant-in-army-boots in the house will not run outside.)
We set up some goalposts: the stroller at one end and my nice sturdy umbrella stabbed into the soft earth at the other. I am the goalie. This is brilliant strategy. As goalie, I don't have to run like a mad thing. They're here to burn excess energy. Me, I'm forty-something, I'm more into conserving energy. Secondly, it's a way of keeping control of five little bodies, all hurtling in different directions at differing speeds. If I'm the goalie, they have to keep circling me. They keep running toward me, and I don't even have to call. Ha!
There is some preliminary discussion of this, though, before the boys understand the parameters.
"You can be the goalie, Darcy!" George declares.
"I don't want to be the goalie!"
"I want to run!" Good man. That's the spirit. Run like the wind, little man, run like the wind.
"Me, too!" George declares. "I want to run!"
Arthur, however, hears something in that which appeals. "I will be the goalie!"
"No, love, I am the goalie. You go on out there and chase that ball." I boot it several metres down the field.
Arthur sighs and trots in the wake of the other boys, already well after the ball. He lumbers a bit behind them for a minute or so, and then he's back at my elbow, talking, talking, talking.
"Arthur. I'm the goalie. You're supposed to be chasing the ball."
The ball bounces against Arthur's foot, then bounces away.
"Oh! I got the ball!" He looks up with delight, smiling benignly at the ball nestled in the grass a foot from his toe.
Darcy thunders up and kicks the ball toward the goal. I boot it back down the field. What we're really playing is a slightly more complicated version of "fetch", but the boys don't need to know this.
"Hey! You tooked my ball!" Arthur is offended.
"I didn't take it, sweetie. I'm the goalie. I have to kick it away from the goal. That's my job. You can chase after it and try to kick it into the goal, too, just like Darcy and George and Zach. Away you go."
He trots off, and, to his credit, manages to join the scrimmage (aka seething mass of three-year-olds), even getting his foot on the ball once or twice. Then he loses steam, follows the ball half-heartedly at some distance for a while, before returning once more.
"Mary, can I be the--"
"No, Arthur, I've told you already. I'm the goalie."
"No, I don't want to be the goalie. Can I be the goalpost?"