It’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.