“Word on the street is you play with Barbies.”
My six-year-old son’s super sweet smile quickly turned into a violent sneer. He sprang from a three-point stance - arms up - and rammed his entire body into my chest, knocked me over on my keister and landed on top of me in a pile of arms, legs, fists and fury.
“Atta boy!” I patted his rear in universal football speak for “good job” since a handshake or high five just doesn’t seem to convey the same amount of awesomeness as a good smack on the ass does.
Men. That Y chromosome really messed them up.
I pushed my son off my chest, crawled over to the couch and carefully pulled myself up onto the cushions. Training the young one for his first season of flag football was more important than - say - maintaining a healthy kidney or two. So I sucked it up and pointed a finger at the little guy.
“That was great blocking,” I marveled. His face beamed with pride and he answered, “Let’s do that again!”
And that’s when my better half wandered into the room. “What are you two doing? Sounds like bulls are running around loose in here,” he said.
“No, that’s on Tuesday.” I pointed at our son and added, “We’re running blocking drills.”
“And the part about the Barbies?....” my husband’s voice tapered off into questioning silence.
I shrugged, “We were having trouble channeling his inner rage.”
My husband snorted, “His ‘inner rage’? He’s 6. His ‘inner rage’ only pops up when he misses an episode of ‘SpongeBob SquarePants.’”
“Exactly!” I answered. “So I added a little trash talking to provide the appropriate level of motivation.” I paused, “Apparently Barbies was the trigger. Who knew?”
Unfortunately, my little guy has a short memory, and he’d quickly forgotten everything I’d taught him by the time we arrived at practice.
A team of 5-, 6- and 7-year-old boys high on life and a large amount of sugar isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. I’ve seen more organization and lawfulness in a flash mob.
The coaches really had their work cut out for them. And - more than likely - a 12-pack waiting in the car.
They were like drill sergeants, though, and quickly got things under control, beginning with the basics of the three-point stance. I smiled, confident that my son would remember everything I’d taught him, that he’d be so awesome, so fantastic, so unbelievably amazing that he’d be the poster child for three-point stances everywhere.
I looked over to see all the boys bend down and put their little knuckles on the ground.
That is, except my son. He stood over to the side, staring up into the sky, watching a bird.
Oh, for the love of God.
“HEY!” I yelled at him from the sideline, “Pay attention.”
Annnnnnd....nothing. He just stood there. Staring. At a friggin’ bird.
Fortunately, a coach realized he was one player short - in more ways than one. He reached over and got my son’s attention, instructing him to take a stance.
I watched my son bend down, put his hand on the ground....and promptly lose his balance and fall over.
How he avoided knocking over the rest of his teammates in a line of human dominoes will forever be one of life’s greatest mysteries.
I snorted, looked around at the other parents on the sidelines and jokingly asked, “OK, who does that one belong to?”
And it went downhill from there.
When the coach said half the team could strip to their waists to play skins, you’d have thought he’d said, “Chuck E. Cheese is on me! Let’s go!”
In a blur of activity, shirts were being whipped over heads and thrown over to the sidelines. Then they began running around like frat boys on a Friday night.
You know, AFTER the keg had arrived.
And then there was my son.
“Uh, problem there, son?” I heard a coach say. I looked over to see my little linebacker-to-be with his shirt around his neck and both arms plastered to one side of his body. The coach chuckled, looked over at me and said, “He’s got both arms in one sleeve. How did he manage that?”
I nodded and sadly answered, “He’s no Dick Butkus.” I then added, “But at least he doesn’t play with Barbies.”