Friday Night Lights

twenty oneIt’s football season and this is the first year our son is playing on the high school team. Every Friday morning I open his dark bedroom and quietly announce,”Hey Bud….it’s game day!” and you can feel the buzz of excitement from that point on. If I walk into the school on a Friday, I am asked if I’m ready. As if I’m playing the game. By the time 7pm rolls around, the parents are animated and excited, feeling the electric possibilities….

I’ve never been a big sports fan. Football eluded me for years, I didn’t understand the rules or why anyone would get so worked up over moving a ball a few yards. And then my son started to play his father’s sport. I learned the game. Few things are more thrilling than watching a football land into Coleman’s cradling arms at just the right time and place, and seeing him run that ball as fast as his legs can possibly go. I can’t describe it. I turn into to screaming lunatic and can ride the wave of emotion for hours afterwards. And yet….

The other side is always there, my fear. You see, our little guy sustained three concussions in a short amount of time a couple of years ago. He was under a Pediatric Neurologist’s care for more than a year.  We have relatives who think we are foolish to allow him to play, and maybe we are. But this isn’t about us. What I know is that this kid is the happiest when he’s playing ball.

For as much as I love to watch our son play well on the football field, I would give it up in a second to have the guarantee that he will be successful in life later on. But we don’t get that guarantee. My guy and I pray for safety for our son, and everybody else playing each week and we simultaneously cheer and cringe as the game plays on. It occurred to me last week that this is true for parenting in a lot of ways; we cannot hold onto our children by the shirt and expect them to run and play and learn about the world at the same time. I remember letting my little monkey play at the playground with the big kids before I felt that he was ready. Cheering him on and cringing all the way.

If you’re looking for me on a Friday night this season, you know where I’ll be.


9 thoughts on “Friday Night Lights

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  1. I feel your trepidation and anxiety on this one, especially with all the media attention it has been getting lately. I’m with Joe. We need to keep all these football playing kids surrounded by a hedge of protection. It’s a tough sport, and especially tough when played especially well. Perhaps when basketball and baseball season comes around he’ll become more enamored with one of those in time. Maybe he needs to be “led” to find a way to assert/insert himself into manhood that has an element of bravado with less certain impact. But, he’s not skateboarding or cycling off of rooftops and stair railings or setting himself on fire so you do have that going for you.

    1. Unfortunately, he is a football player through and through. He breathes the stuff. Right after I wrote this post he was injured to the point of being out for the season, with a good chance of surgery in his future. We are trying to look at it as protection for his head (it is a knee injury) and an opportunity to lead from the sidelines, which follows along with what you said. I love the team building and camaraderie of a group sport, these kids act like they have been to war together.

      1. Here is something you need to find at your library or, in light of his injury, even own a copy of. With so many illustrations and photos I don’t know that it would be all that functional in Kindle. Sometimes a “book” needs to be a book. The knee is extremely delicate and there are injuries that currently have NO fix. He needs to follow recovery protocol assiduously.

      2. Thanks for this. He has a rare joint disorder called Ehlers-Danlos, thanks to me, and it means he has extreme hyper-mobility and lax joints. Like circus freaks. He is seeing a sport physiologist, whose main goal is to help him without surgery, but this injury is a bad one.

      3. My wife is currently recovering from surgery for a torn miniscus and I am next in line for the same next month. The knee is way more delicate than we realize and it is very easy to do permanent damage. Glad to help.

      4. That’s what they thought it was at first! It sounds like a tough recovery.
        He has a subluxed fibral head, very rare and quite painful. And he played on it for 2-3 weeks, having a PT put it back into place repeatedly. The joint is now so loose it’s very difficult to keep in place for long.

      5. Big choice. Football or a lifetime of possible misery, especially as he ages and arthritis may become an issue too. He needs to understand how important his knee is to his continuing quality of life in relation to his desire to play football. Don’t mean to rain on his parade, but this is the very real truth of it. I understand the angst for him. “If I don’t play football, who am I?”. Not unlike a man retiring from his job after so many years, Worse, the knee could mean almost no other sports to compensate for his loss. Tough spot to be in for anybody but especially a kid for whom that is his identity. Sorry Jen. Keep[ in mind, that will likely be the crux of the issue, not just an inability to play, but loss of a knowledge of being and purpose. You and I know it’s not the end of the world, but at his age he sees so few options to distinguish himself and be someone special and, of course, a man. Rough sledding ahead..

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