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. . .


  1. "reprogram me"..."despite the obvious fact that he shouldn't"..."tender mercy"...
    you had me chuckling the entire post. :)