I’ve been writing this post in my head for weeks. For weeks, I keep coming up blank. Or rather, instead of blank, I have too many feelings, too much to say. I feel flabbergasted, scared, excited, and absolutely everything in between. I don’t know how to properly convey what I’m thinking.
But here we are.
The boys chose to play football this fall.
The major catalyst in this new sporting endeavor came from a horrible EOSAY soccer season last year. LittleBrother suffered the great misfortune of The Bad Coach. He wasn’t just a yeller, he was prone to berating children. Mainly mine.
LittleBrother has long moved at his own speed, which we attribute to his being all knees and elbows. Someday, when he grows into the lankiness he currently possesses, he’ll probably take off through a field like a gazelle. But for now, he’s still trying to figure out how legs and feet and bodies move quickly. Fine. The point of involving kids in sports is to allow them the space to grow and learn.
But instead of being allowed that important space, The Bad Coach made fun of my son. Sarcastic, off-color, and sometimes point-blank dismissal of the child’s speed or lack thereof. A master of sarcasm, the negativity wasn’t lost on LittleBrother. And after a season of being told he wasn’t good enough over and over and over, my son decided he was done with the sport of soccer.
To say we felt rather ticked off as his parents—not at our son but at The Bad Coach—is a gross understatement. Prior to last season, LittleBrother loved soccer. He occasionally scored a goal. He liked playing goalie. He enjoyed being part of the team. After that experience? Nope. All done.
We wondered if time would heal his wounds, and so when soccer sign-ups rolled around this summer, we asked if he wanted to play. Big fat no. No can do. No thank you. Definitely not. No consideration. Just no. He mentioned tennis at one point in discussions, but there’s no local “little tennis dudes” team. (Someone get on that, please.) We considered letting him just “chill” this fall, but he wanted to “do” something.
And so in a fit of desperation or possibly crazed mania, I suggested flag football to my husband.
We had both been in agreement for the entirety of our parenting years that football for little dudes was off limits. Maybe middle school, when broken bones aren’t quite as catastrophic to growth. Or maybe not because maybe not. But not as a child. No.
Nor did we really find interest in entering “The Football Zone.” You know the one I’m talking about; you’ve seen it before, will again. The frenzied parents, vying for more play time for their kid. He’s the Next Big Quarterback, you know. The hours and hours upon hours of practice. The spitting coaches. The yellingyellingyelling. The misogyny inherent within the sport. The cheerleaders (of which I was one, mind you). The fundraising. The whole flipping experience. If we could avoid, or at least, put it off as long as humanly possible. Please.
But. We looked up the information that night, wanting to see what might await us in terms of teams and coaches and concussions. It turned out that second through fourth graders could play flag football, which includes BigBrother. BigBrother could also choose to play tackle. I clicked around for awhile that night, and finally told my husband he could broach the subject with the boys the next day.
Subject broached: Immediate acceptance. BigBrother chose flag as well. I sat there on the front porch, the evening sun setting in front of us, and resigned to my fate. Football mom. At least they could (potentially) be on the same team, saving us a little time and effort when it came to practices and games. At least.
I liked the league on Facebook. We registered them for the fall, which translates into late July. We started practice, and I eventually caved, buying them cleats and socks. I sat in the evenings, drowning in a pool of sweat, watching them jump over dummies, run a dash, throw, catch, and so on. I’ve posted a photo of the boys practicing in the yard, but can’t make myself post a picture of practice. Not yet. I’m not ready. I’m slowly dipping my toe in here.
I tried to put my disdain for all things NFL aside, despite the fact that BigBrother came to me and said, “I want to be in the NFL someday.” I didn’t launch into a tirade about the Boys’ Club and supposedly-invincible athletes. I didn’t say that to be an NFL player you need a whole lot of talent and luck, but not really so much on the brains or kindness front. I didn’t say anything other than, “You can be whatever you want to be, honey.”
I didn’t say all of the things I’ve already written, all the thoughts in my head, because right now, these two just want to be a part of something. They want to play, throw, kick, and be football. I want them to have fun and do their part as a member of a team; I want them to be kind.
But of course, The Bad Coach who made LittleBrother abandon the soccer field? He’s coaching flag football. Because of course. I’ve already watched him make one kid cry (big, sobbing, cover-your-face tears), talk to the only two girls in the league about being cheerleaders (but not one single boy; nope, no misogyny here!), and use his sarcastic chastising against one of the smallest little kids in the league for being slow. If the heat doesn’t cause me to stroke out, it’s possible that restraining myself from coming over the fence at this dude may.
And so. Football.
Here we are. I’m a football mom. We’re football parents. They’re football kids. I’ll make the most of it. I won’t let my bias show in front of them. But let it be known: I refuse to raise entitled sons who think that a uniform jersey counts as a pass, whether academically, socially, sexually, or responsibility wise. Nor will I put up with a coach who misconstrues teaching with berating.
It’s going to be a long season.