His eyes were intense, his posture one of anticipation. The muscles in his quadriceps trembled slightly at the prospect of sudden, reluctant use. Would muscle memory kick in, summoning the mechanics necessary to properly execute the tackling technique? Or would advancing age and blown out knees betray him, leaving him in a cloud of dust created by the flip-flop clad opponent sitting to his immediate right?
Promises made to an eleven-year-old boy were sincere and full of good intention. Any effort needed to subdue the potential hysterics from the estrogen-filled half of the parenting unit could only be considered a worthy calling and noble cause. Through out the football game, an event that entailed the crunching of helmets and prepubescent grunts that are unnerving to all whom are maternal, the dad squatted uneasily in a three point stance beside the bleacher supporting his hand-wringing spouse .
“It’s a contact sport,” he repeatedly reminded his wife. “The players are supposed to hit each other with intensity and aggression. Laying someone out flat brings the coaches joy.”
“ It’s against all that is good and holy,” she often responded, in the same tone used when telling her oldest child how fun it would be to be home-schooled in college.
An ongoing conversation that always ended with the son pleading for the dad to intervene on his behalf during a game. “Block her, tackle her, do what you have to do to keep her on the sidelines where she belongs. You gotta do that for me, dad,” my son implored in the same tone used when he told us how not fun it would be to be home schooled in college.
So, the man sat tensely, ready to spring forward at the first hint that the mom might sprint onto the field to comfort the shoulder pad wearing boy that just yesterday had been a diaper wearing infant. The man’s running shoes held the advantage over the flip-flops, but her quivering womb edged out his momentum.
First quarter. Second quarter. Third, then fourth. The boy held his own while his dad held the back of his mom’s shorts. “He’s fine. See, he jumped right up after that play. Maybe you’re a motivating factor after all,” he stated while gripping tightly to her belt.
The game ended, the man’s quadriceps relaxed, the technique remained untested. Only ten more games to go.