I had the most fun last Saturday than I have had in a while. And get this, the fun was not wine-induced, nor was it with my friends, nor was it on a romantic date night with my man. It was at my little guys’ flag football game. Let me just say that if you have not yet entered the foray of watching youth sports, especially when it involves your own kids, you are in for a treat. There are kids cracking up and misbehaving, kids running the wrong way, high- fiving and back-slapping, kids doing the end-zone boogie, and kids who are standing in the middle of the field during a play having absolutely no idea what to do.
This is not our first season, but it is the first time both kids were excited for weeks beforehand, and it is the first time they both had great games on the same day. The league we are in emphasizes nine core principles, one each week. Some of these include responsibility, teamwork, sportsmanship, etc. The coaches highlight these traits during the week and, at the end of the game, the kids vote on which player they think best demonstrated the core characteristic. I like this and I really think it speaks to the integrity of the program.
My youngest pulled lots of flags, ran hard, and on the second to last play of the game, ran for a touchdown. I looked behind me where my older boy was practicing and saw him cheer for his little brother’s play. I then watched as my little redhead ran through the parent tunnel and gave me a special high five and a hug. He was so proud to finally be able to share in his own accomplishments, not under the shadow of big brother. Next up was my older son’s game. He is at an age where he is really into it. As the time grew closer to his game, I noticed his face changing, growing more serene and steady. I saw his steely focus and thought, “Wait a second, that looks familiar….he is getting his game face on!” Normally, he is the first one to crack a joke and have a giggle, but as the clock ticked down there was none of that. He looked up to find where I was sitting and I gave him the “thumbs up.” Game on, peeps.
He ran for two touchdowns and threw for one. He huslted and brought it, every play. He also pulled lots of flags and deflected a few passes. I wanted to jump out of my chair and run down to the field, grab him in my arms and swing him around. Somehow, I restrained myself and just gave him a smile and a thumbs up. It was HARD not to wig out, purely out of joy and excitement for him. I was a proud mama. You know what made me the most proud though? When I saw my youngest hand back the flag he pulled to its owner, when I saw my oldest pause and crouch down in concern for a fallen teammate, when I saw them both listening to their coaches and cheering on their teammates for plays well made. That’s the good stuff.
But here’s the thing, be it touchdowns or the drums, a well-written essay, or getting into a great college, I want my kids to have their own spotlight, without me trying to share it or in any way take credit for it. I want them to bask and sit and bathe in what they have done–and when and if they want me to share it, they can bring me in….but I always want to remember that it is about them. I lived and am living my life; I got to make the choices (right or wrong) that seemed right for me at the time, and I want them to follow suit. It’s tricky stuff, letting them make mistakes and learning from them, or letting them make decisions that I don’t necessarily want them to make because it isn’t what I want for them. I do know, though, that I must let them do these things if I want their love and respect forever. If they trust that I truly want for them what they do, and what makes their hearts shine, then I believe they will seek my advice and wisdom (if I have any) when they need it.
Those touchdowns though; inside I was screaming and jumping and acting like a maniac. Just saying.