The Goal, The Bear, and The Run-Away Toddler

soccer basketballI am the proud father of a future David Beckham, a future Mia Hamm, and a future Michael Jordan. My kids, 6-year-old, N and 8-year-old, Nee had all-star performances in their first soccer games of the season while my 2-year old, X, was having hoop dreams.

Being the star of the team was nothing new to N. His scoring prowess and speed helped his teams to be successful over the past two seasons. Last season, N scorched his current coach’s team with five goals. Needless to say, the coach was glad when he saw N’s name on his roster.

N is not a morning person and his first game was at 8:00 a.m. so I was concerned that his performance would be subpar. Although he was a bit sluggish throughout the game, N managed to score the only goal for his team.

The big news was that Nee also scored a goal. This goal was her first in two seasons of soccer. Nee struggles with self-confidence and scoring a goal was a great ego boost for her. However, I had to bribe her in order for her to be confident enough to score a goal.

Nee was upset that she had to miss her classmates’ birthday party at Build-A-Bear Workshop because her game was at the same time.

“I’ll tell you what,” I said. “If you score a goal, I will take you to Build-A-Bear.”

“I’ll never score a goal,” Nee protested. “Those girls are bigger than me and faster than me.”

“Let me rephrase my offer,” I responded. “WHEN, you score a goal, I will take you to Build-A-Bear.”

“Daddy,” she said. “I can’t score a goal when someone is guarding me.”

“You can if you believe you can,” I said.

She sulked in the backseat and stopped talking to me. I was used to her shutting down so I didn’t press her anymore. I allowed my words of encouragement to seep into her psyche.

When we arrived at the field, we found the coach getting in some last minute drills before the game. Nee fell into line and practiced some shots on goal.

During the game, Nee was aggressive and attacked the ball. In the third quarter, she stole the ball, advanced it down the left side of the field, and managed to shoot a spectacular diagonal shot. I was so happy that I jumped up and yelled, “YES!”

Unfortunately, Nee’s scoring high was short-lived. A few plays later, as Nee was guarding the inbound pass, she was hit by the ball and had the wind knocked out of her.

My wife, KayEm, rushed across the field to make sure she was okay. I watched intently from the sideline. While we were occupied, my 2-year-old son, X, disappeared. He had been trying to get to the basketball court all day, but was unsuccessful.

“KayEm,” I said after caring for Nee. “Where is X?”

“I don’t know,” she responded.

We both searched frantically for the toddler. After several scary moments, KayEm finally spotted X at the basketball court that was about 50 yards away. I ran to the court to find him bouncing his little soccer ball and trying to throw it into the 10-foot goals. I admonished him and then hugged him tight. He had given Daddy a serious scare and I was so happy to have him safe in my arms (Note to self: Buy a basketball goal for the toddler).

After the game, KayEm and I told Nee that we were proud of her

“I told you, you could do it,” I said. Nee smirked and gave me a hug.

Who knew that a stuffed bear was all that it took to turn my meek daughter into a scoring machine?

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About author

Frederick J. Goodall

Frederick J. Goodall is the founder of Mocha Dad - a parenting website focused on fatherhood. He is passionate about parenting and helping men to be great dads, husbands, and role models. You can contact him at or on Twitter at