Sunday 24th July 2016

I am so tired. This has really felt like a full-on weekend, even if half of it was just about catching Pokemon!

Everyone who follows him on Facebook knows that the other day Nicholai announced his retirement from football. Today was the last home game for the season, and potentially Nicholai’s last game on his home ground (although that depends a bit on how they go in the finals) so he was completely emotional about the whole thing. Troy was on gate duty, so he and Nicholai went down to the oval early to do that, and although Nicholai headed off to find his teammates he also came back to Troy in the gate shed needing hugs and reassurance. Troy told me he actually started the game on the bench because he was too emotional about things to play!

I was there for the last half. It wasn’t a bad game I guess, and Nicholai’s team won, which makes it pretty much a certainty that they’ll be in the finals. Nicholai gave a motivating speech in the huddle at three quarter time, which made me smile – he’s so unintentionally funny at times. At the end of the game all the other kids were throwing water on him and cheering him as he led the team off the field. The coach gave him the game day medal in the rooms afterwards, and made a little speech about what a champion he is, and the way that he’s “given his heart and soul to the club” for the past five years or so.

It was awesome and funny and it just makes my heart hurt in a good way…it’s another one of those days when I’ve been able to look at him and see how brilliantly he lives his own life and how much a part of this wider world he is, and just think…autism can bite me. I mean, look at him. Look at how hard he has tried with this game, how much he’s worked at being part of a team, and the way that he has absolutely shone in the eyes of all the coaches and trainers and even the other players. He just does these things that no one could have ever predicted he would, and he does them in a way that is always so inimitably his own, and I love that. The world has been good to my Nicholai.

Despite all that, and despite the fact that I think playing football has been very good for Nicholai, I’m pretty glad he made the decision to quit at the end of this season. I planted the seed of this at the start of the season, saying that I thought he might not be able to play next year in the under 16s, because he was so much smaller than the others and I was afraid he would get crushed. He didn’t much like the idea at the time, but it’s obviously been in his mind over the season and he made the choice himself that it was time. In all honesty, I didn’t want him playing under 16s, even though he has filled out some over the year. His skills have never been up to that of the other players, and that gap is getting bigger and more dangerous for him as he gets older. In the faster and harder game of the next age bracket I really just think he would get hurt. He’s not skilled enough to engage on the same level, and not really skilled enough to accurately read the play and get out of the way either, so chances of him getting knocked out and run over were a bit too high for my liking.

I took the other three kids for a walk at the wetlands so they could try and catch Pokemon, but it was not a good hunting ground. Neither was the footy oval, as they walked around it while waiting for Nicholai’s game to finish. We then made them all accompany us to Costco, so really they were not in the best of moods! However Costco was a Pokestop, so there was at least that. While all the walking might not have given them opportunity to catch any Pokemons, the distance did add up in regards to hatching their egg so they were happy with that.

It was early to bed and straight to sleep for all of them tonight. I’m wrestling with the dilemma of whether to go to bed really early, or stay up and watch Expendables 3 with Troy. Sleep versus a movie with Kellan AND Ronda?

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