“Excuse me may I speak to you about son, please?”
These are 10 words that every parent dreads. There is a moment where you wonder what your child has done to get into trouble, or worry that they may have been hurt in some unthinkable way. Either way, the answer is always “Yes, of course!”
Over the past year, the Boy and I had several conversations about the pros and cons of allowing us to make the choice together about allowing him to play tackle football. For years, I said no for all of the obvious reasons, such as broken bones and concussions that could impact him for the rest of his life. He pointed out everything he was missing out on by not being involved in sports at school.
It was not until this conversation that I realized that by saying “no” to football I was saying “no” to so much more than games. Football and other team sports provide a great way for kids to connect with their peers and become a part of a great community. He was missing out on friendships that could have made his transition from private school to public school so much easier.
After a year of virtual education, my son’s feeling of not belonging was pretty powerful and helped me change my mind. Instead of focusing on all of my fears about injuries, we are focusing on all of the positive aspects of being a part of team sports.
Instead of choosing to play video games and watch TV, he is choosing to go outside. He is paying more attention to what he eats, turning his homework in on time and making sure that he goes to bed at his agreed bedtime. He is becoming more disciplined on his own because he wants to excel at football and gain the respect of his teammates.
This fall I signed the Boy up for the junior varsity football club and, if I may be honest, I was hoping he would hate it! But of course, he did not. He came back excited and proud of himself. The Boy is actually good at football and a great teammate. I do not know why any of this surprises me, but it is truly amazing to see your child thrive in a new environment.
So, a few weeks ago his coach started marching toward me after practice, and he said those 10 dreaded words. “Excuse me, may I speak to you about your son?” As the coach started speaking I noticed the look of dread creep across the Boy’s face, but to my surprise, the coach was telling me about all of the positive attributes of my son’s character. He was telling me that my son encourages his teammates when they are losing games, acknowledges when they make plays that prevent other teams from scoring, and that he is a natural leader.
The coach said he follows directions and makes adjustments based on their suggestions. The coaches decided to move him up from junior varsity to join the varsity team as a team captain.
Although I still worry about injuries I am at every game to make sure he knows that he is supported. You can hear me yelling, “Don’t hurt my baby, be careful boys, or watch out.” I am happy that the Boy is making new friends, gaining more self-confidence and, more importantly, I am proud that we made this decision together instead of just making a decision on my own.