Sunday, August 22, 2010

Scenes from a Tennis Tournament

You're too short to play us, said the boy looking Oliver up and down when we arrived at the public tennis courts.

Oliver looked at me, nervously, but he also rolled his eyes.

Why is that? I asked.

Well, you know. When you're short, you can't reach high to get the ball. That's why Russians play the best tennis. His Russian grandmother, sitting stoutly on the bench next to me, nodded.

Hmmmmm, I said, Roger Federer is one of the best players in the world, and he's not particularly tall, is he? Plus, he's SWISS, and Oliver is half-Swiss.

Oliver smiled.

That the boy was wearing a gray, ribbed wife-beater with navy athletic shorts and white socks and brown open-toed sandals on the tennis court, didn't seem to impact his confidence in giving a constant stream of advice to the other players. He pushed his heavy, black glasses up his sweaty nose whenever he missed the ball, which was a lot.


  1. i have observed that oftentimes the most unique or strange looking children have the bluntest communication style. they are rude, thoughtless and seem not to notice or understand the reactions of those they speak to. i handle kids like that very well because they just seem so unaware, not cruel. i can't figure out if it's family influence, the result of being so intelligent with things like spatial reasoning and higher math that your human relations wires are a little crossed, slight cases of Aspergers or what, but it's interesting.

  2. Such a fun, slice of life post! And I discovered something else we have in common: my own Oliver is half-Swiss, too! On his dad's side.

  3. I think I know that kid! I've seen him everywhere I've lived.

  4. I like a fierce mother:)

  5. It's good to call it as it is, even when sometimes we run up against insensitivity. Like Maggie May and from the photograph included I'm inclined to feel some empathy for said bossy boots. He probably knows no better. That's not to condone such behaviour only my vague attempt at making it more comprehensible. It's good that you were able to stand up for Oliver, too.

  6. Amazing where an ego can travel! An interesting glimpse of such an ego in action!

  7. LOL! what a kid! you know he may have just been a quirky type kid... possibly even on the spectrum??? i think maggie may mentioned asperger's too. or, sometimes people are just plain "odd." the outfit spoke volumes :). Kids like that turn into adults like that... like Im picturing Cliff from "Cheers" ...

  8. OH this life and awkward moments, youth can be full of them.

    how i love moments in life where we celebrate our humanness with empathy, connection. i suffer when people are left out. when i hear this child's words i sense his own suffering...and the false perception that taking someone down will build you up.

    i love that you were there to forge a safe entry for oliver.

    i love that you are here...
    you are a welcome part of my every day.

  9. still can picture the "ribbed wife-beater"
    hope it's not a portent of this kids future life

  10. Growing up is hard and some people never manage it. Oliver has good examples in you and your husband. He already knows more about life than most college kids.

  11. okay,
    I did think it was weird that we both had wife beater in our posts. didn' t you?

    my heart aches for this boy, but is of course fiercely protective of yours , as it would be of mine.



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