I was standing at the side line of the rugby pitch, reciting yet another group of boys’ names and reflecting on how much harder it has become to retain names as I’ve aged. It’s been six years since Milo started this sport with Ripper Rugby, and I swear my memory at 34 was zippier than it is now at 40. It’s extra tough when parents insist on giving their kids traditional names like Matt or Sam. Give me an Aotea or a Manav and they stick, but the Tims and Georges get lost in the swarm with the Johnnys, Coopers and Bens.
A whole group of new parents to meet as well, with the same conversation starters as always: “Which one is yours?” “Mine is Milo, the little one over there.” I’d point to the smallest striped jersey on the field, weaving and dodging energetically. It’s fun to point out your kid when they’re performing well.
I remember that first year, watching him stick out his jaw and set his sights on his target ball carrier from across the field, dig deep with his sprint, triangulate correctly and nail his target. Milo is competitive. Competitive, driven, focused, strategic. Aggressive, unempathetic, relentless, determined…. you get the picture. It’s in his DNA. Half of which is from me, I get the irony of my complaint. Watching him on the sports field was an epiphany. Right there in front of me I was watching the up-side of all those challenging personality traits.
At the first game this season he was awarded Player of the Day for his relentless tackling. “Why does Milo always get player of the day?” Naomi commented. The coach overheard and asked, grinning “This isn’t a rare occurrence, then?” No, it is not.
It is the 6th season Milo has played rugby, and each year as the boys around him get bigger and bigger, I think it might be his last, that he might get sick of being flattened by kids that are literally twice his weight. But he loves it.
Other parents say he’ll probably hit a growth spurt eventually and rocket out of the 5th percentile, but I’m not so sure. After all, someone has to occupy the 5th percentile; that’s mathematically how percentiles work. I have occupied the 5th percentile in height for my entire life, and I’ve been imparting few tips for him to be comfortable in that space.
“It’s a lot more comfortable for small people when we ride on planes.”
“When you’re small, your height to weight ratio is favorable. That means you can climb easier and run faster than big people.”
“I watch you, ducking and weaving out there; being small you can fit through that maze of other players really well.”
“You know, Milo, it’s not all bad being small. People will initially judge you based on your size, and then you have an opportunity to blow them out of the water.”
He grins. He likes blowing people out of the water.