Tuesday, October 26, 2010

"We Are Just Going To Pretend Those Two Penalties Were Not On Me"

I came home from the game last night still partially frozen from the ridiculous cold that fell upon the stadium combined with wind. I weakly presented dinner, assisted with homework, chatted briefly with Y between homework attempts, and then exhaustedly fell into bed.
This was my painful direct prayer:
“Dear God-
Please reprogram me while I sleep.
Hours earlier, we had pulled into the parking lot up by the gym. I felt a groan come over me. This place is where hard things happen. I’m not sure that there have been but a few days of anything other than hard times there. I’m pretty sure our course has been atypical. I don’t know of anyone else whose kids have had to battle so hard to receive so little.
I know there are parents essentially uninvolved. We sat on the visitor’s side trying to guard against some of the wind. I counted the groups of parents on the other side- the home side. There were 26. Roughly half of the kids didn’t even have someone there to watch them. In talking with Y after the game he said many don’t even want to go in because they don’t know what they are doing. Then it becomes cyclic. The more they don’t play, the less confident they are when presented an opportunity.
Y’s team won 50-0. Towards the end of the 4th quarter, Y gets put in on a series at wide receiver. His first play, he lines up off sides. Penalty flag is thrown. He has an extended chat with the ref, his team calls time out, and they line up again. This time he is on the opposite side of the field. They line up, he is interchanging with the ref when the ball is snapped, flag is thrown- he is off sides again. There was some chatter in the stands- of the negative variety. I was insanely angry. He gets another token play and is taken out because of his mistakes. Keep in mind; we are up 50-0. This must be why some of these other kids with no experience don’t want in the game. He was put in for two other plays late in the final minutes. 50-0. Y played 5 downs of football.
As I ambled up the hill toward the parking lot, I reflected the same reflection I had days before. Did we limit our boys’ opportunities by supporting their decisions to play high school sports? Should we have steered them in a different path? If we never came to watch, would they lose interest and confidence in themselves, and quit? Is that even what I think is best for them?
No- not even remotely.
The old 4-Runner made its way down the driveway. Y comes in- announces “We are just going to pretend those two penalties were not on me.” We all smile and gently laugh, not knowing how he really feels and wondering if the joke is to cover up some of the pain. He sits at the bar and inhales some scrambled eggs. When his dad gets up to retrieve a drink, Y steals his waffle, although completely unable to contain his dimpled grin. I watch him closely trying to read how he is really feeling. I asked him about the conversation he had with the ref. Y explained that as an outside receiver, he is taught to check with the ref as to whether he is off sides or not.
After the first play, the ref said, “Hey, number 20, come here a minute.”
Y said the ref asked him what he was supposed to do when he was asked by a player if they were off sides. Y gave a quick tutorial to the ref of the proper hand signals of when he was on the line, and when he was off. He then ran to catch up to the team in the time-out huddle. The same thing happened on the other side. When he was pulled out one play later, his coached asked what the problem was. Y explained he was holding a clinic for the referees and doing the best he could under the circumstances. We (Y nor I) don’t particularly care for this assistant coach. He thinks an awful lot of himself, despite the obvious fact that he shouldn’t. Perhaps then, I delighted – a little too much- when Y told me a bird pooped on this coach during the game. (Aw- Is this a tender mercy?)
The more I thought about Y’s response when he walked in the door, the more I began to wonder. . . Maybe this isn’t nearly as hard on Y as it is on me. Maybe there really isn’t too much pain in the process. Maybe he is able to claim joy through the journey and fall into the safety net of his faith and support groups when things are hard for a moment. Maybe- I just need to be reprogrammed. . .

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Anywhere - Anything

Two weeks ago, post game left me bitter and angry. That whole week, I found myself mentally composing an email to the head football coach. It included sharp directness regarding the inefficiencies of the coaching staff. I restrained. (much effort required) Instead, I sent a note indicating that I had been reflecting on where we were a year ago with B and his injury. I expressed gratitude for how he was treated and respected despite his inability to physically help his team on the field. The coach replied with an insightful message given Y's struggles this season.
He said,"Tough days for sure…proof that if you hang in…have faith…and a great support network…anything is possible!"
Y has hung in there. His coaches responded with a little playing time this week. I watched him closely. He does his part; does it well- just has limited opportunities. What does he have faith in? I asked Y. He said "You know - all the everyday things: power of prayer, scripture power, Christ, TSM (Thomas S. Monson), parental advice.". I asked him where faith in those things would get him. His response- "Anywhere!"
The support network- that's me, and his dad, brother, sister, friends, extended family, and beyond. It's deep- a dedicated group.
Y has great faith and wisdom, as he continues to exercise it, truly anything IS possible.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Best Is Yet To Come

Does it make him more likable? Most people you come in contact with were not football stars in high school.
I was interviewed yesterday by Y. He had to interview someone regarding his own talents and possibilities for his future. He chose me because he said, "You know me best!"
It's true and what a blessing not only to know him, but to be able to claim him. The first question was to list some of his talents. That was easy- "You're smart, socially aware, hard working, optimistic, and athletic". His brother added humorous-so true!
Then he asked what would make him a good employee. I replied, "Everything about you!"
He smiles. "Is that what I should write?"
He is an amazing person. He will be respected and well liked his entire life because of who he is and how he treats people. I do see him succeeding in athletics, perhaps at the next level when his height and girth match up a little better with his shoe size.
Until then, there will be some hard days- like today.
I am on my way home from his game tonight. It's a beautiful community 2 1/2 hours away. He thought he would play. He didn't. I met him on the sidelines after the team's final huddle. I handed him a sack dinner for the long ride home. He was shivering and his lips were blue as he quivered out a "thank you".
I think these experiences are preparing him for future opportunities. I think people will always be able to relate to him; thus expanding his ability to connect to, work with, and even serve people throughout his life. For now, I think it will keep him humble, and I hope it inspires him turn to the Lord. Today-for peace and reassurance of His love, and always- for direction in all areas of his life.
"Hang in there Y. The best is yet to come. "

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

It Sucked Not Getting An Opportunity

Years ago- before the car accident- when I would feel this way, I’d go for a run and silently thank the bonehead coach for a good workout. Since I have yet to regain strength in my joints enough to run, I have to channel my angst another direction. Let’s just say they were nearly perfect: crispy on the outside, soft and chewy inside and oh! the melted chocolate!
Last night we were home against a team we thought would be a tough opponent. With the score of 27-0 after the first quarter, we realized all the talent was at the Varsity level. That was great news for us as we assumed it would mean some time for our #20. We waited and waited…and waited. Finally with 8:36 left in the fourth quarter, we get to see Y warm up his quarterback on the sidelines. This is the quarterback Y says he makes look good in practice with his amazing one-handed leaping catches that get replayed in the kitchen after practice. #12 (qb) was sent into the game. Y held the football, waiting to be sent in as his receiver. Unfortunately the first string receivers were still getting all the reps. That’s it. That’s how the game ended. #20 never left the sidelines.
I became frustrated with the coaching staff, or rather those who termed themselves such. Was it really that hard to rotate some kids in and give them an opportunity, essentially thank them for working hard in practice every day? Especially with a score like 27-0? I tried to distract myself with household business as I waited for Y to come home. As I saw the lights of his car slowly coming down the driveway, I seemed to become increasingly angry at the entire football program. How dare they ask me to make them brownies when they can’t even rotate my kid into the ball game! It was raw Mama Bear anger!
Y comes into the kitchen. I try to play it cool. I fail. It went something like this:
I asked Y if he wanted to go hit something.
He said no.
“Throw something? “
He said “No.”
“Slit someone’s tires?”
He said “No.”
“Go for a run?”
He said “No. I have homework.”
“Make someone poisonous brownies?”
He said “No.”
I said “You’re not angry?”
He said “No.” Then he added, “It sucked not getting an opportunity. But I’m not angry, Mom. But if it would make you feel better, you can make cookies.”
And so I did. . .