Monday, August 02, 2010

The Anxiety of August

I'm sure I've rambled about this before, but I am a VERY seasonal person. I don't think I could ever live in a tropical locale for that reason, I need the changes.

Each month has it's own "attitude" in my mind - some of the months I look to with fondness (such as the crispness and harvesty October) and other months I pretty much loathe - i.e. January.

August is one of those "bi-polar" months for me. It's still part of the festivities of summer, but gone is the innocence of a "whole summer before us". Here instead are the constant reminders of "back to school" - the ads for Crayola markers, Jansport backpacks, and Ticonderoga pencils.

The August calendar begins with middle school camp at Harlow - and a camping trip for the girls, but ends with back-to-school orientations and football practice. Ughhh

In contrast to some of my "back east" pals - our school year doesn't begin until after Labor Day, but the threat of it yet to come is surely existent in August. If both kids were back at elementary school, it wouldn't really effect me much, but now that Brayden is off to the big-scary-world of middle school, the anxiety is a bit higher. And, then there is football......

Last night we had a big family conversation with Brayden about what playing tackle football this year will really be like. We've had our frustrations over the last two years in the realm of Pop Warner football, but I think those have been just a teaser for what this year will look like. This year, more schools combine. More kids drop out of the sport, and more "stars" converge - coincidentally, all of the offspring of the coaches who are running the team. While I've never met most of the 5 coaches, I've heard my share of "tales" and witnessed a bit while on the other team's sidelines last year doing the Minimum Play Requirements tallying. It wasn't pretty.

At a mere 75 pounds - roughly the same weight, give or take 5 pounds, that he's weighed in the last two years playing football, Brayden will undoubtedly be one of the (if not THE) smallest kid(s) on the team. This year, it's all 6th graders - not just a combination of two grades based on weight - and there's no limit on how heavy they can be. I'm guessing the average weight of the kids on the team will be 30-50 pounds heavier than our boy (and probably about 6 inches taller). Throw in the knowledge that this coach more than likely has his roster already established with his "star players", it leaves little room for Brayden except for steadily showing up to be a "prop" at practice, and a benchwarmer at the games (except for those minimum play Pop Warner requires, in which he'll probably be thrown into a position of "least risk" for the team, irregardless if that is a position he likes or even has the talent to play well).

With all that in mind, my heart has been heavy for him continuing in this sport. While I do have some opinions, I can't argue to any great degree the mindset of this Pop Warner league. These kids are being groomed to play for the local high school, which has repeatedly won the state title. So, even at 6th grade, they aim to win. However this level of intensity is not the way Brayden operates. He loves the game, loves the camaraderie, but does not possess a "killer passion" for dominating in sports. And, we wouldn't have it any other way.

So, getting back to that family conversation - John and I spelled it out. We put a convincing argument in for reconsidering joining a Flag Football league (which I think would be IDEAL for our kiddo). We gave him alternative options for after school extra curricular activities. But, it kept coming back to the relationships in Brayden's life - and how that IS the way Brayden operates - it's all about the people,the buddies, the experiences together. No one he knows is playing "Flag" - and most of his buddies are continuing with Pop Warner. So, despite all the odds, which Brayden is VERY aware of, he's going to give it one more shot this year. Supposedly, he's going to try harder than every before to prove to those coaches that he's worth a second glance - and maybe just a few more plays than those league minimum's require.

I'm proud of Brayden and I believe in his potential and his thought-filled decision. But, I'm not happy with it. Without Pop Warner, the anxiety of August would be lessened considerably, with it - it's very much heightened. Bring it on, August........


sara said...

those are the things I don't miss.

My son was asked to play quarter back for the b team in middle school...he had never played that position but wanted to please the coach, so he said yes. they told him that if he did well, if the A team player got hurt he would fill in. He worked so hard all season in a position he was not really made for, I was so proud of him. They never replaced him with anyone else. And then the A team player got hurt at the end of the season and they pulled a completely different kid in to take his place...jason was crushed.

Looking back, it was a great learning lesson early on, but boy was it hard to watch and hard not to go tear into a coach!!!

Jodi said...

I hate August...

Colie said...

I love that we posted a "woe is me" post in the first few days of August. So funny! But, we are enjoying August and I might be getting excited for Fall. It's my fav. season but there is an obvious damper this year.

Anyways ... about the football - ugh! That's what I have to say - ugh! I can imagine being in a similar boat - not with Caleb's size but his personality is not tackle football (it can change - he's only 5). So, I can imagine the anxiety you must be having.

I LOVE that he is a relationship guy. I'd want to play too if all my friends were playing!

I will be praying for Brayden and the rest of your family as you start a new season! Seasons Change - sometimes they are easy, and sometimes they are not. Let's roll with it :-).