This day’s make something task was to cut holes in a magazine or book page, revealing what’s underneath, to create something new. I sliced into a page from Sports Illustrated, all the while trying to contain my maternal instincts …
My son is a high school sophomore this year. Although we live in a big football town, and I was raised in a small football town, with parents who taught me to love and appreciate the sport, I have never allowed my son to play football. I was too scared. What if he got hurt? What if some hefty defender crushed his bones? What if his head bounced around in that helmet like a pinball?
But now that this young man is nearly 16, I have to acknowledge that he faces dangers as bad as these (and some even worse) when he’s nowhere near a football field. He’s a diver, a gymnast, and a baseball player, and he used to wrestle. We’ve seen athletes sustain serious injuries in all these sports. He cruises around on a long board and has messed with parkour, both of which are “extreme” activities that can have extreme consequences. Now he’s driving … and I don’t want to describe what can happen there, but the thoughts race through my mind every time he takes the wheel.
In short, “he might get hurt” no longer feels like a credible reason to keep Isaac off the field. So, despite my fears, my son now plays high school football. I admit that he looks amazingly strong and fit and agile in that uniform. Seeing him on the sidelines, enjoying the sport and disciplining himself to play his part on a cohesive team, is pretty thrilling.
He looks great on the sidelines.
Then he crossesthat wide white line, onto the expanse of turf where he must maneuver his way through the coach’s scheme. He crouches down, clenches his fists, and sets his gaze forward—looking right into the face mask of a truck of a boy from some rival school.
He looks, to me, like a toddler in a business suit.
Every other player on the field becomes a threat to my offspring. So I set myself in position, too. I am ready to bound down the bleachers, leap the fence, and pounce on any teenage tyrant who so much as brushes my son’s elbow with his pads. It’s excruciating, watching each play. Most of the time I barely see who has the ball; I’m too busy watching my boy and calculating how long it will take me to reach his place on the field.
I could beat the ref, the coaches, and the trainer. You watch me.
Isaac loves football. I love it, too. I just wish he was sitting next to me, watching those other guys play. Then maybe the hits wouldn’t seem as hard. And maybe I would know who’s got the ball.