This past week both boys have been in a soccer camp, 9-4, every day. Yes, it’s 90 degrees in the shade here in sub-Saharan Manhattan, and as humid as a wet gym sock, but the kids  play on. I learned a new way to tell the difference between kids and adults this week: after dragging themselves cross-town to pick up their kids at camp, grown-ups want a nice shady bench and maybe an adult beverage. The kids, however, after a Pizza Infusion, will happily play tag in the sprinklers for another three hours.

Soccer camp started in just the nick of time. I start a new job next week and if the boys hadn’t had soccer camp to keep them busy, I probably would have had to do something highly illegal–lock them in closets, perhaps, or leave them in the park overnight–just so I could prepare for The Next Chapter of My Life.  Oh, and did I mention that Husband is traveling for two weeks?

So soccer camp, in this house, translates to “life saver.”

But I digress. Today was the last day of this soccer camp and so the entire group of kids, ranging in age from 14 to 6 (Caleb was the only 6 year old) divided into teams for a tournament.  The teams played against one another all day in the sweltering pre-hurricane heat and Caleb’s team came in 4th out of 10 teams.  A perfectly respectable finish, right?

Perfectly respectable, that is, except trophies were only awarded to the top three teams.  Now, Caleb has got a season of little league under his belt and he’s been watching his brother do all these sporty things, so he knows the drill: at the end of whatever it is everyone gets a trophy.

I don’t like the fact that trophies get handed out like breath mints and so was delighted that only the top 3 teams got doodads. But Caleb was inconsolable (and bruised, battered, and covered in a thin layer of sweaty grit).He moped and moaned all the way home, began to cry in the elevator, and when we got into the apartment, he flopped down on his bed and began to sob.  I figured he was down for the count.

And then the skies parted and little cherub heads rained down on me. Or something almost as miraculous: Liam began to comfort his little brother. Told him that the coaches had said great things about Caleb’s skills, that he’d done a really great job, that even really great soccer players don’t always win, on and on and on.  I slipped out of the room and Liam kept talking, reminding his brother of all that he’d learned this week, and even conceding that Caleb is a much better player at 6 than Liam was.

I swear to god it was as if he’d actually been listening to all my lectures this summer about how important it is for siblings to take care of one another.

Of course, another possibility is that because Liam’s team won the tournament (and there’s a big shiny trophy on his desk to prove it), he felt he could afford to be compassionate and my lectures had nothing to do with it.

But no. I’m not going to undercut their tender moment with cynicism.  I’m going to stick with cherubs and miracles…sort of my own soccer camp trophy.