The Cheese had his very first flag football game this weekend. Friday night, I asked him if he was nervous or excited.
Which was good–the answer I was hoping for–because I was a nervous wreck.
My son is not the star of the team, and I am more than fine with that. Chances are, my son won’t grow up to be a big guy, so a future in college football or professional football–or heck! even high school football–are probably not in his future. We signed our child up to play flag football because he wanted to and because we want him to enjoy the experience for as long as he possibly can.
But it is hard for any parent to realize that your child isn’t the best at something–not for my sake, but for his. When he played T-ball last spring, he wasn’t all that good at that either, but really no one on the team was so I never worried about the Cheese feeling badly about himself.
Now it’s different. We have several little guys on our football team that are good little players–for Mighty Mites, mind you–and after a couple of practices the Cheese started to get upset.
When he didn’t get to a guy in time to pull his flag, he would cry.
When a kid bigger than him blocked him well and pushed him down, he would cry.
When he got the opportunity to run the ball and he got his flag pulled, he would cry.
And this was just at practice. He wasn’t crying because he was hurt or because it was too rough. He was crying because he was disappointed in himself and it was breaking my heart and causing me large amounts of unnecessary stress all at the same time.
That’s why I was nervous–nervous about what would happen during an actual game. I wasn’t worried about my child scoring a touchdown or having some big football moment, I just didn’t want my child to be the one crying out on the field.
The Cheese’s greatest strength and greatest weakness is that he is very sensitive. His sensitivity makes him such a good person, such a good friend, but he has trouble with controlling his emotions. When he feels that he has disappointed someone or gets into trouble, he can cry at the drop of a hat.
So there we were on Saturday morning, just praying that our child would have fun and not cry. Not too much to ask for a first game.
It didn’t take long for our team to score a touchdown. Afterwards, it was time for the kick-off. The coach called our son’s name to kick the ball.
The Golfer and I looked at each other. It could go either way. I stood there, muttering “Oh crap…oh crap…oh…” under my breath, quietly enough so that the movie camera wouldn’t pick it up.
Turns out there was nothing to worry about.
After successfully kicking the ball–successful for a Mighty Mite team, mind you–the Cheese stood there, not really knowing what to do next. But that didn’t matter. What mattered was how big he was smiling.
The rest of the game was a total success. The Cheese actually pulled two flags (he played defense the whole game) and I thought the Golfer was going to bust something he was cheering so loudly.
But all of the parents were cheering really loudly–in a good way. We all stood on the sideline with our movie cameras, cheering for everyone on the team–especially when one of our players scored a touchdown in the wrong direction. We even made a little parent tunnel for the kids to run through when the game was over (a suggestion that I had made at the beginning of the game and the Golfer had made fun of!)
The kids were having fun, the parents were having fun–it was a perfect Saturday morning in America. Turns out there was no reason to be nervous at all. Silly Mommy.
But by next Saturday, I’m sure I’ll be nervous for my child all over again.