Football season is back in Yazoo County, and the Patterson family has begun its latest journey into the sports arena.
Our oldest son James is proud to be a part of the pee wee football team. He is still a youngster and part of the newest generation of the future gridiron giants. He loves the game, his coaches, his teammates and the thrill of the game. The seed of football has been planted in his soul, and he is ready to tend to it.
Sure, he is getting used to the sport and is practicing every day. But hopefully, he will continue to improve all while loving the game as the years progress.
But he’s not the only one adjusting to an entirely new experience. I am also beginning a new journey of my own with my new official title, “football Mom.”
I got the Little League world under control since I have been a part of it for the past six years. I can now successfully balance a bat, gloves, sno-cone, Gatorade and a pickle without missing a beat.
Granted, we played pee wee football last year. But this year, I have really dived into the experience. James is also really into this game this year as well. His excitement and pride add to my own.
But I am picking up on a few lessons along the way.
First of all, I am adjusting to not eating supper until after 8 o’clock – on a school night.
Gone are the days of preparing a hot cooked meal to be enjoyed at the table around 7 p.m. (at the latest). Now, we are sliding into the house around 8 p.m. with homework and baths still left to do. In the shuffle of scrubbing ears and helping with math problems, I am trying to get food on the table.
Don’t expect a pot roast. Don’t request chicken pot pie. And don’t even think about asking for dessert. Now the menu consists of $5 pizzas, a microwaved hot dog or I open a can of soup and throw a few crackers in.
My truck no longer smells like the Febreeze air freshener attachment on my air vents. Gone forever are the sweet scents of Hawaiian Paradise or New Car Smell. My entire truck smells like a locker room. And let’s face it, little boys stink after games and practices. It’s almost like I can see the fumes of sweaty football pants, muddy jerseys, wet socks and steaming helmets circulating around me as I drive down the road.
I am also getting used to seeing my little boy take a hit. The first time James really got the wind knocked out of him this season, it took all I had not to pounce into Momma Bear mode. I kept my cool, but I admit I kept my eye on his opponent. But to James’ credit, he shook it off and went back to playing.
I was so proud of him at home later that night when he told me he said a prayer that no one else gets hurts, but if someone did…let it be him. Even at ten years old, he is thinking about his teammates, and I was beaming like a proud mother even as I burned my hand taking the pizza out of the oven.
I am adjusting to this new life and title, as least for this season anyway. Even as I write this column, I am about to grab some equipment that was left at home to drop off at the school for tonight’s game. Either I am a taxi driver or a delivery truck driver.
But the thrill James gets at each game, even the ones they lose, makes it worth it. He puts his heart into the game, and he is making memories and learning lessons on that field.
The stinky truck, the hectic meals, the late nights, the hard blows, the wins, the losses…. it’s all worth it when I hear my son’s name called from the press box and see the smile on his face even through his helmet.
The best feeling in the world is when James comes off the field at the end of the game. He is wet with sweat, breathing like a dragon and smells like a sock factory. But as his wet head hits my cheek for a quick hug, I am reminded…this is football.
And it’s great.