I clutch John’s hand as we approach his brother’s school. We are here to pick up Sam after Week 2 of an after-school soccer program, a program I thought would be great after hearing that a few of his classmates were enrolled. In the five minutes it takes to find the gym, no fewer than three teachers greet us, see John, and say “Hi Sam!”
Their faces are puzzled. I watch them trying to sort it out, Sam has a twin? Why didn’t we know Sam has a twin?
We find the gym and look inside. Eight or so boys are running around between two nets, a coach is yelling encouragement. There are just a few minutes left and more parents are arriving behind us. John takes in the open expanse, the rolling ball, and yanks me in. Before I can get a good grip, he darts free. At first he just runs the perimeter of the gym, but then he begins to weave in between the group of boys, his eye on the moving ball.
Sam spots him, stops playing and yells, “Coach C! Look, it’s John! He’s my brother! Can he play?”
Coach C pauses, glances at me. I mouth Sorry! and he says,”Sure, John, come on!”
John laughs and runs in and out of the group, flapping excitedly. Coach C calls the group over for a huddle but Sam won’t join unless John does too. He’s pulling him and pulling him and I am keenly aware of all eyes on me: the coach, the kids, all the parents…
I weigh my options: go and hoist him out of there risking an epic meltdown or go help him sit in the circle with the other kids. I opt for the latter and as I near him, John yells all on his own “Sit down!” and takes a seat with Sam. Relieved, I kneel behind him.
The coach talks about teamwork and how great they did. Sam interrupts, “And my brother did really great too!” He grins at John and John throws his arms around him. At first I think it’s John, excited, wanting to engage Sam in roughhousing, which is known to happen a lot these days. But then, no, I see John’s grin and realize that he is genuinely happy to be here, sitting in this gym with his brother.
And then they’re done and here we are leaving the gym. Sam says, “Mommy, I want John to come to MY school, not his school, okay?”
I am too choked up to reply.