The night (and days) are getting colder and colder. This past week we've barely made it out of the 50s. Days are filled with school and afternoons are packed with homework. After the warm ease of summer it is enough to make the kids cry. There is one thing that makes it all bearable.
Both Todd and I come from football families. My dad was a pretty big deal around here. He played on the only undefeated football team in his college's history (Mission House- now Lakeland College). Then he went on to play semi professional football for the Redwings. The Packers got wind of my dad and wanted him to try out just as my dad got drafted into the army during the Korean War. Todd's dad was a fantastic football player in high school (and Todd never knew it until he was going through his dad's old year book and read, "Twinkle, twinkle football star, what a bashful boy you are") and received full ride football scholarships to Marquette (who had a football team at the time) and Madison (to play for the Badgers). Then of course there is Todd. First team all conference in high school and college. Needless to say we are a football family. If there would be a women's football team around here there is NO DOUBT I would have wanted to be on it.
We love football. And, apparently, so do our kids.
The boys wait anxiously all year for football season to roll around and this year was especially exciting. This was Ben's first year being able to play flag football. For four years Ben had to traipse with us to Joey's and Tommy's flag football games and finally, FINALLY, it was his turn. Each week since I signed Ben up in June he would ask how many days until football started.
Finally Ben gets Coach Daddy all to himself. The past few weeks Todd and Ben would go off together to the practices and this past Monday Ben had his first game. Never mind that the teams don't keep score. Never mind that it doesn't even follow a regular flow of a game just yet (each team gets 6 plays and then they switch). This was a big deal. All day long Ben told his teachers and classmates that he had a big game tonight. It was too sweet for words.
The "Big Game" came and Ben did great. He stole flags, he hiked the ball, he even got a touchdown. I am so happy to say that the first game expectations really lived up to the hype. Ben had a blast.
This football season is a big deal for the two older boys as well. Todd and I broke down and finally decided to let them join tackle football. We talked to the program directors and really liked how instructional and supportive the tackle league is. Part of me thought that Tommy might be a little young for tackle but Todd assured me that the 4th grade level was fairly gentle.
I must admit that after watching Tommy in practice I am now more concerned about Tommy hurting someone else than Tommy getting hurt. That kid knows what he is doing and he loves to hit. He has such natural athletic ability and no fear.
Last Saturday Tommy had his first tackle football game and he was all business out on that field. The other team couldn't get any yardage because Tommy was making every tackle. The other team double teamed Tommy and he'd still make the tackle. No matter where that ball went number 4 was on it, flinging himself into every tackle. He was in heaven! And I was in heaven watching him help the tackled opponents up and pat them on the back. Warmed this mama's heart to see what a compassionate player he is.
At Joey's 1st game a few weeks ago he ran up to me right before the game began and handed me a baby tooth that he had just lost. I must be honest and admit that it choked me up a little bit, watching my oldest run off to join his tackle football team as I held on to one of his last baby teeth. What a juxtaposition between boy and man.
I have always loved football. And even though these last few weeks of football schedules has been tough with three boys in practices and games, I am so thankful for it. I'm thankful for the work ethic it helps instill in the boys. I'm thankful for the confidence it is giving them. And I'm thankful that they have proven to themselves that they are capable of more than they thought they were.
And I know, for sure, that somewhere there are two grandpa angels watching, smiling, cheering on, and getting a bang out of their football boys.