For the Love of the Game

Our two middle school sons play flag football on the same rec league team, and as I watched their first game under the Tuesday night lights, I realized that later, it would sound like they had played on completely different fields. One would strut to the car as if they had won (they did not), and the other would approach, head bowed, teeth clenched.

For the first, it has never mattered if his team wins or loses (unless he’e watching the Packers on tv). If he makes one good catch, it’s a victory. Last night he made two, including a one-handed, over-the-head grab. You should have seen his grin. He’s an “I’m just happy to be here” kind of player. A big guy, coaches play him at center, which means he is involved in every play. But he’s almost as happy standing on the sidelines talking about the game with his coach.

His younger brother has the body of a sports statistician but the mind and competitive will of a quarterback. When he is not leading the charge, he feels ignored. When he is, the opposing team looks larger than life. But he runs smart plays that give his team an edge, and he knows it.

The Blue Jays’ chosen quarterback threw him one pass, which he caught for a two-point conversion. As he held onto the ball in the end zone, I felt that “phew” moment moms feel when we think we know our athletes will be pleased that they played their play well.

I should know him better than that.

As the game wore on, and he was left out of one play after another, I could see the frustration build in those piercing blue eyes all the way from the sidelines. It’s not “I’m just happy to be here” or even “put me in, coach.” It’s “give me the ball,” “let me lead the team.” Even if they had made it to the rec league Super Bowl last night, he would have seen the game as a defeat.

Two boys who love football. Same team. Different game.



Middle School Sleepover Talk

“If Trump builds a wall, there won’t be anybody to mow the lawn.”

“Yeah, I think the guys who cut our grass are Mexican.”

“I’m pretty sure ours are Thai.”

My son grinned, “We have two Irish guys. Me and my brother.”

You mow your lawn?!”

“But you’re not really Irish.”

Later, when we went from the car to the house through the garage, one of his friends paused at the lawn mower. He waved his hands above it as if performing magic and spoke in a low and ominous voice. “This is Jackson’s mower.”

An Important Life Lesson at the Middle School Dance

The theme was USA, so he wore an American flag bow tie over his red polo shirt. He went somewhat reluctantly, but curious. His big brother said it would be fun, yet he still had his doubts.

When I picked them up, he was smiling even as his brother teased him for “dancing with a girl.” Apparently, they had both danced with quite a number of “them”.

“It is awkward,” he admitted. “But it’s way more awkward not to dance. So,” he shrugged, “I danced!”

Imagine the Ponzi Schemes….

At dinner the other night, the family was ganging up on our seventh grader. We were betting that, after failing to bring home a book report form that day, he would not remember it again.

“Who thinks he’s going to forget it again?” And we all raised our hands.

It is a good thing he has a sense of humor. “How about if I forget it, I pay you each $5? But if I remember, then you each pay me $5.”

“No way!” we yelled in unison.

But his brother hatched a plan. “How about if you forget, you pay us $5, and if you remember, you only pay us $1? It’s a win-win!” Big grin.

Apparently, in his mind, a win-win does not benefit both parties. It’s a win for him… twice.

Not sure if he really thinks that’s what it means or it’s just another occasion when he is turning the world to his advantage.