Soccer and the C.I.A.

Today is Career Day at school. Students will be arriving bright-eyed this morning dressed as doctors, scientists, entrepreneurs, computer programmers, architects and Google employees (remember this is Silicon Valley — EVERYONE wants to be a Google employee).

Not the Downings. Nosiree. We are rule-breakers! Iconoclasts! We march to a different drum I tell you… Dif-Fer-Ent.

Ella wants to be a CIA agent with a NOC (that’s “non-official-cover” for all of you poor saps who have no spycraft) as a professional soccer player. Please note the name tag that lets everyone know she’s a top secret agent. I believe we have some work to do for her career development.

Julia wants to be a professional soccer player who raises bulldogs, because what other kind of soccer player is there? She figures GU is the right place for her to kickstart her career, because bulldogs! oh… and if she must, college.

So this morning, the girls dressed appropriately for Career Day, and I attempted a photo on the way out the door.


You guys, we Downings just cannot take a normal photo. Cannot. Our best effort was total cheese, although the CIA name tag is proudly displayed. I’ve got hundreds just like this photo — different settings, same photographic fail.

After alternating between pleading and chastisement, I got this photo:photo

At least Ella smiled. Julia, it seems, cannot smile and hold still the same time. They are, it would appear, mutually exclusive. I begged her to Just Stand Still and, nope. Every single one she’s wiggling. Blurry. Like, about to come out of her skin.

So, I’m going on record here: if you are thinking that at some point I’m going to start posting beautiful photos, attended to by witty narrative that catalogs our near-perfect life, um, best to move on.

This is how we roll around here.  Whether it is bulldogs or a career in The Agency, if something makes you happy you wiggle and can’t hold still; you take unflattering photographs that capture life in blurry lines, because our life is lived largely out of focus. We see as if in a mirror, and dimly.

It’s why God’s grace is such a big deal in our house.


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