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Right Place, Wrong Time

photo credit: Jim Larrison

It’s the end of the 4th quarter and we’re losing the football game, but not by much.

The Coach calls an obscure play, “The Wedge.” While it may sound like a salad, you know it’s a football play because your son has talked about it.

The Quarterback hands off the ball to your son, to run it in, for the greatly needed six points! YOUR SON!!! The fans (parents and grandparents, all) are cheering from the bleachers!

A win against the Middle School down the block is within our grasp. Because YOUR SON has the ball. The very ball he has never touched in the six years of playing football, except to snap it to a boy named SOMEONE ELSE’S SON. The ball your Other Son never touched in HIS nine years of playing football, except when he tackled the boy who did have the ball, also named SOMEONE ELSE’S SON, and then deftly handed it to the Referee after the whistle.

There are basically two types of women in the United States: Women who understand football and women who don’t understand football. My entire family falls in to the latter group.

But I have gone out of my way in recent years to get at least a remedial knowledge of the sport so I can enjoy time with the men in my life who live, eat and breathe football. I didn’t approach anything that resembled caring about football until my sons started playing. Bear in mind, at this point, I had been a Mother for almost 20 years and a Person for 40.

I would go to the little boys’ games and ask my husband a million annoying questions. These were questions about the very basics of the game, but laced in with those questions was an undercurrent of concern, as it became apparent that MY SONS weren’t getting their turn with the ball.

It just didn’t seem like “sharing nicely,” which had been emphasized over and over in my house full of women and girls. It sure seemed like my boys were having fun tackling the boys that did have the ball, but, it seemed to me, it would be more fair, if they tackled the boy with the ball, that it should then, logically, be their turn to run for a touchdown. But no, there they were tackling again. And what about that boy who catches the ball? It would be fun to be his mother. As the Quarterback throws the ball, and it spirals through the air to HER SON, everyone’s heart stops beating for a moment… and then… he catches it! First Down!

About the time when I was starting to put it all together, I noticed a few other things. There seemed to be a group of dads who drove their kids to football practice and stayed. They weren’t actually coaches, but admittedly, it was hard to tell at first, because they dressed in team colors, wore a team ball cap, and ran up and down the field yelling and red-faced spittle-screaming at their son and everyone else’s.

In an effort to explain this phenomenon to the hubby, I coined the term “DADVOCATES.” It seemed to me that these dads made it their business to help the coach decide who got to play each and every position. This appeared to be done, before practice, during practice, and over a beer after practice, at Buffalo Wild Wings.

I beseeched my husband to get on board with the New World Order for today’s young athlete and go dadvocate for our boys. But he would not be budged from his position (pun intended) that he better served our family’s needs by going to his paying job.

Him: “I’m not pandering to those coaches. Our boys are either going to make their bones on their own, or they’re not.”

Me: “Okay Don Corleone” (Seriously? Pandering? Make their bones? Am I married to the Mob? I’m trying to get a football position, not a Consigliere.)

So, I did for my sons what any Red-Blooded American Mother would do. I bought a push-up bra and stayed at those practices my damn self. I think it helped.

All-in-all, the boys have both had pretty distinguished runs at the sport of football. As their Sports Agent, who doesn’t really speak the language of football, I never got them any “touch” on the ball, but they contributed well in a variety of other positions. Which takes us back to lye other night…

Picture the beautiful evening, you drop your surly, hormonal son off at the gate, so you can go park the car.

You say to him in your chirpiest cheerleader-mom voice, “Have fun!!”

As he struggles with his pads he says, “It won’t be fun, I’m sick of football.”

You respond, “It’s the second-to-the-last game, GO MAKE IT FUN!”

It hasn’t been easy always being the positive one, you think to yourself, as you navigate a parking space. You should probably leave a little early, during the 4th quarter, and run through the drive-thru to get him some dinner. He’s always too keyed up to eat before a game and ravenous after.

So, it’s about 9 PM., the sun has set in a beautiful Oklahoma sky, the stadium lights are shining on the field, the parents are on their feet. Hell, even the grandparents are on their feet. YOUR SON is running toward the in-zone. It’s the very moment you dreamed of ever since the sonogram first showed a you a boy part.

The announcer shouts, “TOUCHDOWN! CHEYENNE! WITH TOMMY BLANCHARD ON THE CARRY!”

Where are you?

In the drive-thru.

“I’ll take the bag-o-burgers, please, No lettuce, no tomato, no touchdown.”

Leslie Blanchard, a mother of five, writes the blog, “A Ginger Snapped–Facing the Music of Marriage and Motherhood.” 

Photo: Jim Larrison

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