Monthly Archives: September 2013

Pigskins and Prayer timeI am a football fan.  I am.  Not in a crazy, overly fanatic, I-know-all-the-stats-and-history-of-the-game kind of way….but I do enjoy the game. This phenomenon is probably good fodder for the whole nature versus nurture argument.  I was raised in West/Central Texas in the era of Friday Night Lights. Yes, my friends, the movie and television show are pretty accurate in their depiction of that culture.  The high school I attended (shout out to my Central High School peeps) was a huge rival of Odessa Permian (the FNL team, for those of you who may not know), and I was there in their Time of Greatness.  I’m talking football game attendance of 50,000+….for high school….in towns that only have a population of 80,000-90,000.  It’s about 90 miles from San Angelo to Odessa, and when we travelled to away games the road was peppered with orange and blue balloons tied onto stakes placed in the ground at 1-2 mile intervals.  No joke.  Can you even imagine how long it took the parents to make that drive?  That’s some dedication.

When the movie Friday Night Lights came out, Gregg and I saw it in the theater.  When it was over, and he was asking my opinion of it, I pointed out that while I enjoyed the movie a lot (and I really did), it was not historically accurate.  Odessa Permian lost in the quarter finals that year…they went on to win State the following year.  He looked at me, perplexed, and asked, “Who are you?  How do you even know that?”.  Bobcat football, my dear.  It’s a powerful thing.  In spite of my heritage as  first generation Texan (and first generation American on my mother’s side), the power of the Football Belt rings true.  Plus, I paid a lot of attention to this sport during high school.  I really liked dating the cute boys who populated the field……

Despite my enthusiasm for football (and its players), neither my husband nor myself were thrilled when Luke began expressing a desire to play this game.  I also happen to work with injuries for a living, and Gregg had a very short, very painful football carrier (it ended with the shattering and pinning back together of his left arm).  To say we were hesitant about this choice is an understatement.

Being good parents and not wanting to squash our child’s athletic dreams, we did what any mature, loving set of parents would do.  We started making up rules.  Not a chance before you turn ten.  You have to complete certain physical requirements ( we created a whole workout and checklist with fitness goals and everything – yes, I know we’re crazy).  You have to play a season of flag and stick with it.  Mandatory attendance at both summer football camps (relax, they were only two hours in the evening for a week each).  Every time we thought we’d worn him down, he persevered.  It was actually pretty amazing.  He’s only ten years old.  Think of what this tenacity means for the future!

Sorry, I digress.  Back to football.

It came time to sign up for the fall tackle season, and we had to relent.  With more than a little trepidation (and really long conversations with the head coach, assistant coaches, friends whose kids played and the Man upstairs), we signed him up to play.  I must admit, by this time I was much calmer.  I think I’ve mentioned Luke’s stature before.  Here he is (the one in the black shirt)….

He’s standing by two of his teammates….and they are average-sized kids.  He looks like this next to 90% of the other players on any given team.  The other 10%, he towers over by just half a helmet.  There’s a kind of security to watching this game when your kid is the biggest one on the field.

And he loves it.  I mean, really loves it.  The child has found his sport….and he comes alive when he is out there.  Thank goodness.  Can you imagine if I had to spend this much time and energy watching him golf?

This past Saturday was our first game.  We had some scrimmages, and I had gotten to see him in action, but Saturday was when the season began.  So, of course, we were scheduled to play last year’s division champion team.  All of the kids and coaches were a bundle of nerves.  I won’t even attempt to describe the tension pulsing off of the parents.  It’s not even about the game itself, or the competition….not really.  It’s about wanting your child to have fun and feel joy and experience success.  I know that sounds crazy, but…that’s parenting, right?

The game was a nail biter.  Both teams are talented and tough and well-coached.  Both teams had impressive plays and costly mistakes.  Going into the last few minutes of the fourth quarter, we were tied 6-6, and they had the ball, first down, on their ten yard line.  I was pacing and cheering and praying….I couldn’t sit still, or stay under the canopy we had to protect is from the 122 degree heat.  Luke was playing defensive end.  The ball was snapped, hand-off was faked, and the quarterback held on to the ball as he ran behind his two lead blockers.  All of a sudden, Luke came flying up the side.  He shoved the tight end out of his way, barreled through the full back and tail back (splitting their block) and hit the quarterback, taking him down behind the line of scrimmage.  It was beautiful.  The sidelines erupted, grown men jumping and yelling, players stomping….and no one was louder than Luke’s dad.  I turned, stunned into silence and immobility (which is saying a lot) as before my eyes, my Type B, laid back, always put together and generally reserved husband completely lost his mind.  I watched, transfixed, as he transformed into a jumping, screaming, arms wildly waving lunatic running along the sidelines.  I really expected him to take flight at some point, he was leaping so high, yelling, “Yeah!  Yeah!  That’s my boy!”.

He turned and caught my eye, and before I could move shouted, “Did you see that?  Did you see that play?  That’s it!  That’s exactly what we teach defensive ends to do!!  That right there!”  At junctures, he was actually pounding his chest with a fist.  It was fascinating.  He continued, oblivious to my shocked expression, “Tight end? Bam (making a shoving down motion with his hands)!  Full back?  Bam!  Tail back?  Bam!”  His euphoria knew no bounds.  I can honestly say, it is one of my favorite mental images of him now.

Luke was heading back to the line of scrimmage for the next play, a bounce in his step after the hoopla and helmet-slapping of his coaches and teammates.  I could feel his smile, shining through like the sun, reaching out from behind his helmet.  He went on to make another big play, helping to put us into overtime, and then yet another huge block after that.  We won in overtime, and I don’t know that I can accurately do justice to the images of us as parents doling out high fives and hugs as we rejoiced.

I may not survive the season.

As I laid on the couch later that afternoon – dehydrated, hoarse, exhausted and exhilarated….I kept replaying the game and its highlights in my head.  I couldn’t help but picture Gregg over and over again, as he vaulted through the air, cheering.

And I had a thought…..

Is this how Heaven looks when we get it right?  Does God illuminate His kingdom with the brilliance of a proud father’s smile as He gives a fist pump or two?  I can only imagine His joy when we read the playbook He so graciously gave us, and then successfully put His word into practice.  When life brings up obstacles and blocks our way…and we find the strength and courage to knock those things aside, does He take to the air with a resounding “Yes!”?  Does He recount the play-by-play with pride?
Anxiety?  Bam!
Relational stress?  Bam!
Depression?  Financial worry?  Insecurity?  Bam!  Bam!  Bam!
I smile at the thought of my heavenly Father saying, “That’s my kid!” on the occasions we let nothing detour us as we charge forward to tackle the challenge or goal that is our destination.

How He must delight in our smiles and sense of accomplishment as we dust ourselves off and jog with renewed vigor to rejoin the game known as life, continuing on after our moment of success.  We may screw up the next play, but that’s okay.  Our moment in the sun is there for us to remember, providing encouragement and inspiration.

We need to be sure and hang on to that.

Solidarity, sisters.  It’s all about how you play the game.

Celebrate school daysWe made it through another first week of school!  We were on time every day, had paperwork signed and turned in before deadlines, remembered water bottles and last-minute school supplies and only experienced one major debacle, which involved confusion on the bus home -> missing boys for a while and a stern e-mail and face-to-face meeting between myself and the transportation department.  Since that mistake was actually on the part of the school district, it doesn’t count against us, so we’re in the black this year.  Wahoo!

Anyone else this excited about the beginning of the school year?

I’m not sure I can adequately express how ready I was for the routine and days not spent lounging about the house to commence.  The last two weeks of summer vacation nearly killed me – or led me to commit unacceptable acts upon my offspring.  The day before school started they actually tore through the house like a tornado, destroying everything in their path while trying to maim each other.  It was incredible, really.  I’ve never seen anything like it.

That evening, we laid out clothes, packed backpacks and had a motivational speaking session about our goals for this year and how much they have all grown and how proud we are of them and go get ’em, Team Greebon!  Most of this was done by my husband as my boys sat sullenly (Drew) or glaring (Luke) and Emry cried because she didn’t want to go to pre-school the next day.  What was I doing during this reluctant pep rally?  I’m so glad you asked!  My contribution was to dance around the house while singing Kool and the Gang’s “Celebrate” over and over.  No joke.  I couldn’t stop – it was like a compulsion.  I knew it wasn’t helping the situation, and that I was poking the proverbial bear.  I just didn’t care.  The relief I felt overshadowed everything else.  Mom of the year, here.

The first morning went well – I even cooked breakfast, which will probably not happen again until the last day of school…don’t judge me.  The two youngest kids were in great moods (hallelujah) and Luke was quite possibly in the worst mood I have ever seen him in.  Awesome – let the pre-teen years begin.  When I asked him what he was thinking, his reply was, “I’m thinking we should have pulled my wisdom teeth out earlier in the summer.”  Oh, that.  I guess I should be fair and point out that he had his wisdom teeth cut out and two permanent teeth pulled the Friday before, so was still really swollen and somewhat sore, not to mention limited in his diet.  So, basically, he started fifth grade looking like a really tall, angry chipmunk.  Oops.

All things considered, it was a pretty great first week.  Especially if we compare it to last year’s first week.  What a fiasco that was!  Here’s a summary:

Someone who either doesn’t have school-age children, or really hates his wife (or ex-wife) decided to schedule my husband’s company’s National Sales Meeting week the first week of school.  Which meant that I was on single mommy duty the first week.  Normally, that’s not too bad a week to have full duty, other than daddy missing the photo ops and trying to get everyone where they need to be and get myself to work on time as well.  Okay, so it’s not the best timing…

Still, I was determined to plaster a smile on my face, don my Superwoman cape and show everyone how it’s done.  Naturally, this meant that all hell was going to break loose.

Two nights before Gregg left, I was awakened to a scratchy, scrabbly sound coming from the direction of our bedroom dresser.  This sound persisted for most of the night, but of course would stop every time we turned on a light.  It was incredibly frustrating.  Finally, Gregg sighed, squared his shoulders, and pronounced his verdict – we had a mouse.  Excuse me?  EXCUSE ME???  Needless to say, I sat up shaking the rest of the night.

Gregg purchased some mouse traps and sticky paper and set them everywhere in hopes of catching said mouse before he left.  I cannot emphasize enough my stress and displeasure at this situation.  I don’t do rodents.  Period.  I spent the day tiptoeing around the house and peering under everything, while avoiding walking into my bedroom alone.  I procrastinated at bedtime and pleaded with Gregg to sleep with the lights on.  He alternated between amusement and annoyance throughout the ordeal.  He started saying things like, “It’s just a mouse, Bec.  Not a mountain lion.  A mouse.”  All things considered, I might have preferred a mountain lion.  They have a harder time hiding inside a house!

That night, I was again awakened to the sounds of tiny tap dancing along my furniture.  As the sun rose, my heart sank with the realization that our traps had failed (the little sneak had snagged the bait, but escaped with it) and I had to face this situation alone.  For the next five days.  The first week of school.

My dad came over with more traps, this time the old-fashioned snap traps, and we set them throughout the house.  I sat up well into the night, watching television (goodness knows I wasn’t going to be able to sleep), waiting for the “snap!” that would indicate this creature had been caught.  Nothing.  Nada.  Zip.  This had to be the smartest mouse ever born.

First day of school madness ensued in the morning as we ran around trying to get everyone dressed, combed, cleaned and packed up.  Luke was chasing Emry in her then-favorite game of “catch me to dress me” and I was tying Drew’s shoes with one hand while stirring pancake mix with the other.  In the midst of all this tumult, a shot rang out – “SNAP!”.  I froze, turning my head in slow motion.  Many words and phrases were running through my mind.  The only one I can print is “Are you kidding me?!”.  NOW?  In the middle of all this noise and movement?!  Now, the mouse decides it needs a peanut butter breakfast snack?  Oh, yes.  Not only did it decide to go for the gold and set off the trap at the most inopportune time ever…it didn’t even have the good manners to do it correctly.  Instead of having the trap snap down on it’s neck as planned, the trap caught it by the hind leg.  How did it even do that?  Was it backing up to snag the bait with its foot?  Was it showing off for someone – hey, check me out…I can grab food without facing it!  So, at this point, much to my shocked panic, there is a mouse trying to run across my living room floor while dragging the trap holding its leg behind it.

This was too much for me to handle.  Superwoman or not, everyone has their limits…..and this was mine.  I promptly began screaming for Luke.  Yes, my friends, in my hour of need, I reached out at the top of my lungs for my nine-year-old son to come rescue me.  I’d love to explain this with some profound mother-son relationship lesson and psychology babble about giving him opportunities to develop as a man and provider/hero/leader/etc….but that would be lying.  I just flipped out.

My little hero came running, and among my shouted instructions to be careful and grab the edge of the trap furthest away so as not to get bitten (I did retain some semblance of mothering instincts), he brought it to the trash bag I was holding open with my arms fully extended away from my quaking body.  After a short arguement about releasing the mouse back out into the wild vs. putting it in the trash bag (you can guess who won that one), it was over.  I managed to pull it together enough to take pictures, make it to school on time and walk everyone to their respective classes.  Barely.

Then I called the exterminator.  Gregg was not in agreement on this decision, but I informed him that she who has to deal with the vermin gets to pick the method by which she does so.  End of discussion.

Throughout that week, two more mice were caught and disposed of….but not by me, since the professional was on the job, so that helped.

The second day of school, I received a call from after school care that Luke had fallen and scraped his knee.  It seemed like overkill to call for such a minor injury, until I got there and saw that he had a rock embedded completely in his knee….I mean, to the kneecap, flush with the surface.  When I dug it out at home, his leg looked like I had use a small melon baller on it.

The fourth day of school, I received a call that Drew was in the nurse’s office because a fellow student had thrown mulch at him and his eye was red and hurting.  A quick trip to the eye doctor revealed a scratched cornea and need for a contact bandage to prevent further damage.  Voila!

And yet, we survived that week and school year.  And I was still beyond ready to start a new one.  Because, no matter how much chaos and craziness and calamity we experience during the busyness and bustle of our full agenda and timetable, the boredom and disorganization brought on by the end of summer vacation is bad enough to drive us back to the grind of routine.

Plus, it’s 137 degrees here.  Bring on the fall.

Solidarity, sisters.  There’s a time for every season.  Except for one with mice…there’s never a time for that.