Football is BIG in Texas. Though this may seem obvious, what is not so apparent is that it is not limited to Friday nights.
Our seventh-grader has begun his journey into the land of the gridiron. He arrives for practice at 6:00 in the morning before school. There are 180 boys on the team… No, that’s not a typo. Watching them exit the locker room is like seeing a small army take the field.
On Friday, they wore their pads and helmets for the first time. This had two effects:
- They all looked the same except for some differences in height.
- Many of them had to constantly pull up their pants as the addition of pads made them fit poorly.
My sweetheart suggested that we make a quick stop at Starbucks, and then go park next to the field and watch practice. I didn’t realize that the first day with pads was such a momentous occasion, but Gigi got to come with us so I was up for it.
What surprised me was that, even though we got there a half-hour before the boys would exit the locker room, there was only one parking spot left with a good view of the field! The first row of spaces adjacent to the field held pick-up truck after pick-up truck, all facing the sidelines. Men in snappy sports attire were walking from one driver’s side window to the other, coffee mugs in hand, sharing the latest reports on their sons’ expectations for the season. I was the only woman there, and Gigi was definitely the only poodle. (Kudos to my sweetheart for being so secure in his masculinity that he let Gigi sit on his lap and look out the window in front of the other dads.)
Later, as the sky grew lighter and other students began to arrive, there was inevitable tension as parents would pull up in front of these parked spectators, obscuring the view of the field while dropping off their orchestra nerd carrying a cello or overachiever toting a large diorama. They seemed oblivious to the frustration they were causing, despite the many dramatically craned necks and raised hands among the spectators. One young man, wearing a shirt espousing his allegiance to the school’s football team, waved his mother off with a quick and embarrassed gesture, and then pushed his glasses up his nose before grasping the handle of his French Horn case and briskly walking toward the entrance of the school. What a study in stereotypical contradictions!
As practice ended, the trucks formed a parade of proud dads (and one mom and one poodle) leaving the parking lot, daydreaming of the season to come.