Sunday, September 18, 2011

Return to the Playing Field

Today, a little story about my son.  He's a courageous little sucker, and since the theme for September in the NaBloPoMo is Return, his story fits perfectly.

Last year, Littlest Mr. signed on to play tackle football.  Yup.  I'm that kind of mama.  I let him.  In a weird way, I embraced it.  There was a certain sort of sweet mixed in with that mini-man all geared up and out there on the field hitting hard. 

Everything went well.  He made it through the first two weeks of practice without an issue.  Those two conditioning weeks were easy for him.  The first scrimmage was fun.  Practices kept on going without problems.  The first game was a good one.  Then another practice.

That practice changed everything.

The unthinkable happened.  My kid became the fluke. 

There are lots of versions of what exactly happened and his skateboarding habit may have played into it all too, but in the end, he had a head injury.

The kind that ends with your baby on a back board riding in the ambulance to the ER for CT scans and MRI's.   The kind where they don't even take his helmet off or his pads and he stays on the board for a while. 

We had a long and intense time in the ER to finally hear concussion.

Littlest Mr. had a killer head ache for a long time.  A really long time. 

He never returned to the game that season.  He wasn't cleared for play until after the last game. 

He did go to practices and games though.  He became the teams biggest fan. 

I honestly didn't think he'd play again.  I thought he'd stick with baseball and just walk away from it.  But when the football registration form came again, I asked.  Yup, I'm that kind of mama. 

I asked and he wanted to play again.

The two weeks of conditioning were a breeze.  Again.  The first scrimmage was a tough team, but we played hard.  The first game was a killer but we hung tough. 

Then suddenly we were to the "anniversary" practice day.  He talked about the accident all day. 

When I took him to practice, he finally freaked. 

I held his little face in my hands and told him to go to practice, to be fast and hit hard and listen to Coach. I got fierce in his face and told him never to play in fear.  Fear is where injury happens.  Then I sent him onto the field. 

He looked back once, gave me a thumbs up and went back in there. 

He's one brave little sucker. 

Braver than his mama. I did my grocery errand in no time flat and was back on the sidelines of the practice field in 30 minutes. 

I never attend practice.  That's a space for a boy and his Coach, not his mama hanging on the side. 

But you can't play football safely from a place of fear and I wasn't sure he'd shake it before he got out there.  I didn't want it to happen again, on the day, without me there on the sideline. 

It was a tough practice for him, mentally.  He had to fight hard to be there. 

He won.

The game on Saturday still had the legacy living behind it.  This was new ground.  He was going to play past where he got to last year.  He had to get on the field and face the fear but not play from a place of fear. 

That's a lot for a 9 year old kid.

But he's that kind of kid.

The team lost.  Again. 

But he won. 

He returned to the playing field.