Journey of Faith

Friday Night Lights

I was having a hard time sleeping last night. I haven’t been feeling the greatest after returning from Thanksgiving break with my family. The Doctor says that I’ve tested negative for Covid and the flu, which is a plus, but I do have an upper respiratory infection. I knew that prednisone and antibiotics were going to be prescribed. I don’t know if it was a combination of all of that or if the Lord felt that we needed some alone time, but I spent half the night talking to him and praising him for all of my blessings over the last year. One of the things that I talked to him about was some things that I’ve wanted to blog about here. I sort of left you all hanging after I was paroled and ended up moving with my Great Aunt, and now my permanent home back with my husband and son. I heard the Lord say to me, “Friday Night Lights”. I knew what he was referring to. I prayed about it some more, and it’s not the first time that this subject came up between him and I. So, what does this have to do with anything? I’ll take you back to when my oldest son was just starting to be old enough to register for rec sports team. My husband’s passion his entire childhood was baseball. His dad was the coach, he played on teams whose fathers were Orioles players. He was a pretty good player himself at one time. He had it pictured in his mind that if we had son’s they would play baseball. As soon as our oldest could sit up he was throwing him a toy baseball, when he was walking, he was showing him how to bat. The unfortunate thing was that by the time he was old enough to enroll in a rec team, the only sport available at pre-kindergarten was soccer. What the heck, we’ll try it out. We were excited, bought him the gear, shin protectors. All the gadgets needed to make a pre-k soccer player look official. We attended practice and then came the big day. His first game. I invited my mom to come watch. Our son was not as enthusiastic about this sport as we hoped. Apparently, when his teammates were at the other end of the field scoring a goal, he decided it was more entertaining to put the sideline cone on his head and start singing “Happy Birthday”. Oh, if we only had cell phone cameras then! We often reminisce that if we had video, we might have won America’s Funniest Videos. Obviously, this was not the sport for our son. He eventually went on to play T-ball, Baseball, and even had a few seasons of wrestling under his belt. All of which he seemed to enjoy, until he didn’t. They just weren’t his cup of tea. He came to us then one day with a flyer asking to sign up for Youth Football through the school. Neither of us knew anything about Football, other than watching it on TV as a spectator. My husband wasn’t going to get his chance at coaching, but as parents we became #1 fans. Rain, shine, cold, warm, we were sitting outside in our bag chairs yelling like we were rooting for the NFL. Our son excelled at this sport. Well beyond what we could have imagined. By the time he was starting Junior High, the coaches were watching him and moving him to advanced levels. The older kids weren’t too happy when he was able to barrel them over during practice drills. They soon got over it though, realizing that he was eventually going to part of the larger team that would take them to winning games. We definitely went through a lot of bumps, bruises, sprains, and breaks. This is not a sport for the faint at heart. As a mom, I needed to learn to sit on the sidelines and know that the coaches and staff were there to coach and protect the players. I was a fan and a mom at that point. The biggest change was when he had to make a decision. He was asked in 8th grade to go play with the 9th grade Jr Football team. He was one of I believe 5 that was asked. Only one of the boys took the offer as the remainder of the boys wanted to remain behind knowing that they could come together in the next season and come out undefeated. They did exactly that! I never saw so much whooping and hollering from the parents and locals. Yes, there were locals that would come out and keep an eye on the up-and-coming players. These boys were making a name for themselves, and they knew that this was the team that was going to take the High School to districts finally. So, imagine being a parent and from the time they were in Elementary school you were told that you had something exceptional that you were raising. I mean, after a while, you start to wonder if you need to plan for college scouts. When the time came and he entered into High School, he never played for the Jr team. He went straight to Varsity. A new coach was hired and had created a new culture for the players and the parents. He called it FAMILY. It was an acronym that stood for Forget About Me I Love You. Yes, it’s cheesy, but what it stood for was that your actions not only affect you but the entire team. You are the team and together all of us were there to support each other. You started to feel yourself being sucked into this idea. “Yeah, that sounds like a great plan! We’re family and do stuff together on and off the field. They were “Brothers”.” I find that if you were never part of something like this, it might be hard to understand how easy it was to buy into all of this. The coaches were telling us as parents, “Yeah, your kid is a superstar. They can end up being looked at by college scouts.” The staff was putting together film clips of their best plays and posting them on a website for scouts to look at. We were getting calls from companies that promised this and that (we didn’t buy into that mess). Let’s just say that as a parent, it gets you excited. You’re starting to apply to colleges, the teams at those colleges are looking to see if they want to add them to their rosters. I’m just looking for someone to help foot the bill. My son is saying that anything less than a D1, maybe D2 college isn’t worth it. Now, we’re tampering down his expectations that he’s not going to end up in the NFL. What doesn’t help that there was a guy that graduated from his school, that we all knew and were friends with the parents that was scouted to the Detroit Lions. We spent the evening at their home during the draft waiting. He was eventually contacted, went to camp and then was cut before things got started. It put that extra spark in everyone’s eye for a moment that this can really happen in small town USA. Again, on the surface this “FAMILY” concept sounded good. We started having some of the teammates over here and there for pizza nights, game nights and occasionally sleep overs. This was something that took place throughout several of the players homes. One oversite that we failed as parents to consider, was that OUR son wasn’t the same age as his teammates. Remember, he was in 9th grade going into 10th grade. The majority of the players, being Varsity were Juniors or Seniors. We never took into account the amount of peer pressure that was being put on him. Trying to prove himself on and off the field. My husband and I both grew up fairly secluded from some of things that kids these days are up to. Don’t get me wrong, neither of us were saints. We just weren’t the kind of kids that caused our parents any problems. I, speaking only for myself became very naive. I raised a good kid, the teachers, coaches, etc. told me that he was a great student, athlete, person. He was on the honor roll, achieved the Presidential Education Award. As parents, we felt successful in raising a decent, good human being. He’s still an outstanding person to this day! Kids don’t come with instruction manuals. We learn from our parents, who learned from their parent’s, and we try to build upon those lessons. You want to see your kids succeed, excel and heck maybe even live vicariously through them. Hindsight is 20/20 as they say. He had no business hanging out with kids that were Jr’s and Sr’s when he was only in 9th grade. While the age difference isn’t huge, the thoughts and things they were doing was entirely different. In 9th grade, you’re still watching WWE Wrestling and still are relying on Mom’s taxi to take you everywhere. In 11th and 12th grade, you either have a car or at least your license. You’ve had a girlfriend or two and may have even started messing around. If you are put into a situation as a 9th grader and expected to perform at a Sr. level, you are forced to grow up and act a certain way in order to fit in. No one wants to be a dork. As a parent, we do at the time what we feel is the best decision for our kids. We give them leeway to be able to spread their wings and grow. There comes a time when we hope that things, we’ve taught them to this point has been enough. It’s never enough, because even today at my sons being 19 and 23, they are still seeking guidance from us. Heck, we seek it from them as well. It’s part of being a healthy family. Why? We respect each other’s opinions and those opinions matter. I can’t go back and have a re-do. If I could, I’d probably still allow him to move up because we were relying on the advice of a coach who saw potential. What I regret is buying into the FAMILY manta and actually thinking that we can treat the fellow teammates as our own. That we could allow them into our lives and into our homes. Our private sanctuary. Oh how wrong we were.

Photo by Jean-Daniel Francoeur:

#FridayNightLights #FootballParent #Family #Parenting #Parent #HighSchoolFootball


2 thoughts on “Friday Night Lights”

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