Our boys are never playing football, I told my husband. Too dangerous and too unnatural. I said that when they were babes; both under two years old and a third boy not even around yet.
Fast forward a few years and in the last week, I have been kicked, head-butted, kneed in the face and pistol-whipped. The last resulted in a busted lip. All have been committed by males age 5 and under.
They have tried to ride me, climb up me and tackle me.
I’m not always their focus.
They have also tried to ride, climb and tackle each other. They see someone – brother, friend, grandparent, stranger child they just met – and their instinct is: Charge! Or to chase each other. Or bump. Or shove.
Sometimes there are tears, but they are momentary, temporary and fleeting. Then they go right back at it.
I used to think football was so violent. It used to seem so unnatural. I didn’t get it at all.
But now I see it. Quite frankly I still don’t entirely get it. The innate desire to wrestle, run in circles and roll around on the ground. Yet, I can see the beginnings of football through my three boys.
Running away from everyone with the ball tightly in your grasp. Chasing the person with the ball. Tackling whoever is in your way – whether or not they have the ball. Jumping and diving. Kicking and throwing the ball. Blocking and dodging. Pinning down a brother or anyone near by.
I may have declared that my boys are never playing football, but I have been proved wrong.
Football is basically what my young boys do everyday. The only thing that separates them from those playing on Saturdays and Sundays is that they keep score on Saturdays and Sundays (and the $).
Where this might sound rough and violent, it’s all done with smiles, squeals, and laughter. Loud smiles, squeals, and laughter. But always with smiles, squeals, and laughter.
And what did they miss most about their daddy being out of town for 6 weeks: wrestling!
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