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Dad fibs to daughter: Great soccer kick, honey

Parents sometimes have to be actors, and I am tired of saying my daughter is great at soccer when she clearly is not.

The spring soccer season ended this week and I couldn't be more tickled.

Being a parent sometimes means being an actor, and my long-running role as the happy daddy eagerly gleeful to attend both practices and games was wearing me out.

"Great job, honey! Oh, you're the best!"

She certainly is not.

Often, she'll stare off into the distance while play continues without her. I cannot understand how the excited screeches of boys and girls muddled in a roiling commotion, simultaneously kicking at the ball and each other, does not rouse her from her early-morning torpor.

She simply refuses to engage in anything aggressive, keeping herself out of the mix, even as her coach exhorts her to, you know, do something.

Often oblivious to on-the-pitch events, she once found herself with the ball and nothing but green grass between her and an empty net (no goalies at this age). Suddenly awake, she let loose a kick with a huge grin and sent the ball dribbling – directly into the wrong goal. While her teammates moaned, she exulted, then found me in the sideline crowd and yelled, "Dad, I scored a goal!"

"Dad who?" I felt like saying. "I think you're mistaking me for someone else."

The other parents shunned me, an instant pariah among people who already had disliked me for once bringing healthy snacks ("No Doritos?" a parent dismayed.)

As weakly as the Little Girl plays, however, I began noticing that at age 7, there is beginning to be a difference between the boys and girls. Many of the boys kick howitzer shots and throw their bodies around the field, while most of the girls delicately pick their way through games, always stopping play to ask kids who've fallen if they are all right.

In the nature-nurture debate, I usually side with nurture, believing my little one could do anything a male could. Now, I'm not so sure.

Of course, there are great girl soccer players who play better than most humans, male or female.

But if my less-than-talented kid is to continue playing among the middling rec-league plodders, I'd prefer she do it with girls, only.

As a dad wary of the dating years to come, I know the boys will be around soon enough.