All day yesterday, our two younger boys worked on their made up plays and wore their helmets to lunch, while our oldest son Christian, begged not to go.
6:00 inevitably came around though and the three boys grabbed their cleats. For two hours they would be put through conditioning. The first of many practices.
As we approached the field, the smell of fresh cut grass was magnified by the storm that had just passed. Whistles blew and coaches gathered their players.
The three boys found their teams and began to listen. Their coaches introduced themselves and began by telling them what would happen throughout the season.
Our two younger boys sat just itching to play, while Christian stood with his team and held his stomach. His eyes met mine and his fear hit me. I wanted to get him out. He was scared to death. Thinking that it was just my mothering over him, he even looked younger than the other boys.
I began to ask some of the moms how old their sons were and the ages ranged from 10 to 12. (What?) Christian is nine. He'll be ten next week but right now, he's technically a nine year old out there with kids up to twelve.
Finding the team mom, I asked if we could pull him down a level. She said that because he was such a big kid, it was based on weight limits. He weighed too much for the younger bracket.
Feeling like we had made a mistake and wanting to get him, I looked back towards Christian. He was raising his hand.
The next two hours were something to behold. As we rotated from the three fields to watch the boys, my husband said, "I have never seen anything like this".
He was right. It was the most organized and impressive practice you could imagine. Kids of all ages running drills and learning techniques.
I wanted to help him. I wanted to run beside him as he tried to catch up to the others. I wondered if the other kids were already annoyed by him and couldn't help but think that the coaches dreaded having him. Then it happened.
Christian didn't catch a pass and had to do push-ups. When he stood up to join the others, one of the boys turned and put his hand up. Catching my breath, I watched to see what would happen.
Christian went to the boy and "high fived" him. Tears welled in my eyes like the ridiculous mom that I am, but I couldn't help it. Whoever that child was, he'll never know what he did. He'll never know that Christian stood a little taller, pushed a little harder and grew a little stronger. That one boy made Christian part of the team.
The drills continued and the coaching went on, but eventually, the first practice was over. Christian stuck through until the end.
Joining his team in the huddle, he was exhausted.
"Sorry I didn't want to play before." He quietly said as we moved.
"Buddy, it's okay. It's perfectly alright to be scared of things and you don't have to be the best. We just want you to try."
"Yeah, I know. It actually wasn't that bad."
It was a simple sentence, but my spirit swelled a thousand times.
It's going to be a long season and we know he'll definitely be the weakest player on the team. To us though, no matter what, he'll always have the heart of a Giant.
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