Bitter sweet loss.
I generally don't brag too much about my kids on the blog. Mainly because the free time I use to blog is when I'm fed up with them and stick them in a closet, covered in peanut butter, with two beagles to deliver the lickings they deserve.
Yesterday though, they somehow made it through and entire 24 hours without providing sufficient motive for ritual torture. So, this morning I decided to take a couple minutes to do the proud parent blogging thing (before they wake up and earn a licking ;)
Yesterday, Hillcrest faced their nemesis, Grantsville. Predictably, they began by giving up 20 points, and trying to hold back a lot of tears from the beatings they were getting as their line was broken through again and again. By the time a hand off was made to the running backs, there were two or three red jerseys already within tacking distance. Our strategy of 'watch #34 because he usually has the ball' worked perfectly, as long as we were wanting to watch him gain 6 yards on each carry before tackling him.
Somehow we needed some motivation. Hopefully, at some point this group will figure out how to rely on each other for motivation and support when things are down, but for now, they seem to need a big play, either by luck or one person's determination, to restore their confidence. Thankfully, Ian brought that determination with him to this game.
He started out getting pounded for the first quarter. On one play, by the time he got the hand-off he had two guys hitting him in front and a third hitting him from behind which sent him to the sidelines for a while to catch his breath and nurse a nasty welt on his back. Toward the end of a second quarter filled with more failed passing plays and fruitless running attempts, everyone was pretty frustrated and tired of getting hit.
Ian was frustrated, beat up, and sore, but stayed focused and determined (not a usual combination for him). He finally decided to make a bit of his own luck and smashed through the Grantsville line and broke several tackles for a huge 10 yard run up the middle. We finished the half without scoring, but also held Grantsville scoreless as well. Ian had consistent blocks every play, and morale was up ever so slightly.
The second half started with Ian kicking off. He had a huge kick, just shy of the endzone resulting in a tackle on the three yard line. Grantsville's next play ended with us recovering a fumble, and then scoring our first TD of the game.
Ian's next kick was almost as perfect, but sailed all the way into the endzone putting Grantsville on the 20. Another recovered fumble and some renewed confidence put us on the scoreboard again.
On his third kick, he tried to get a little fancy and put it deep into the corner. Tough to do when you're still kicking off your toe and don't have the control. He didn't quite get the depth, but did manage to put it on the side to get us a relatively easy tackle on the 15.
I'd love to say we ended up coming back for a win, but it just was not to be. Everyone was feeling pretty good after the game though having played a very tough second half and showing some constancy that has been sorely lacking all season. The parting chant was 'WE WON THE SECOND HALF!".
As much as I love to see him make the big plays, it's Ian's attitude that plays on my pride. He keeps his head up when others despair, cheers for his teammates and offers encouragement when they're down, and is as quick to recognize efforts as well as results. He's still an eleven year old boy with the attention span of a beagle puppy, but he has made some huge improvements in recognizing some of his own efforts as well.
Building his confidence has been a long hard haul, but I think he is finally starting to realize that he has a stake in all the efforts we are making and is beginning to make the connection between the efforts and the results. I tend to think he usually feels that life is more like the first half of a Granstville game than it is like the second, where no matter how hard you struggle, you keeping getting held and hit from behind. Hopefully we all have enough determination to pull each other through the second half with our head high.
Blah, blah, blah... I'm a sentimental sap... apologies.
And Avyrlie. The beagles get no remarks of pride unless they learn to use the toilet and make dim sum (two separate things. I don't make dim sum in the toilet)
I usually wish Avyrlie would take attention span lessons from the beagles, but she tends to remember and dwell on everything. Like Ian though, she is a peacemaker and loves to make friends. Everywhere we go she instantly adopts a new group as 'her girls' or 'her boys' and leads the charge to the playground. I picked her up at preschool the other day to find her explaining to Girl-1 that it was now Girl-2's turn on the computer but that she could have another turn after Girl-2 was done. Then she took her by the hand to pick out some toys to play with. Somehow the friend association translates to parents as well because when I pick her up, two or three other kids come grab my hand and tell me they're ready to go. Very cute (as long as the hand sanitizer isn't empty...).
Her first questions for me are always, "Where's my bother?", and "What's my mom doing?" (next question is "Can we get a donut?". Aimee's kid...). When we get home, she's excited to see the dogs have them chase her around the house or yard while she plays referee and tells them if they need to be nicer to each other.
Her absolute favorite play date is with Ian's football team after practices on Thursday. Every Thursday a couple of the parents provide a tailgate party for the team. They've done this for several years now and it has caught on as a traditions with most of the other Hillcrest teams as well. Avyrlie invariably ends up with several players chasing her around the field and teasing with her. I've taken this as advance warning and have started working on my intimidation techniques for subduing boys who continue to chase her as she gets older. First in my arsenal was a large jar of Alum.
While Aimee is certainly not my kid (from what I hear she was lucky to survive childhood) I have to mention how proud I am of her as well, freaky habits and all ;)
Aimee pointed me to a blog that one of her co-workers maintains where he refers to himself as Donkey. After reading several posts, my mind somehow associates him with another unflattering donkey like word. I'm not the brightest and most compassionate person, but I can't fathom this guy can believe things like: inviting your mother to watch your kids birth is ok, WITHOUT ASKING YOUR WIFE FIRST! or that mentioning your WIFES FACIAL HAIR is alright in any context. Well I caught myself feeling exactly like a post straight from his blog when I realized that it drives me nuts when Aimee asks my opinion about something and then reports to me later that her dad agreed with me so I might be right. As if my opinion is bound to be wrong; as if I am EVER WRONG at all ;)
Yeah, what an ***. It actually took me thirteen years to have it dawn on me that her letting me know my opinion was confirmed by someone who was able to live with a teenage version of my wife (aka The Beast) for many years without selling her to the Russian government for use as an interrogation torture engineer (ask her brother), was not an insult, slam, or any form of derision.
She certainly gets much more than just opinions and good looks from her parents. She's a bizarre workaholic and makes exiting a vehicle quite the event :P No is simply missing her vocabulary which has resulted in some curious telemarketing and door-to-door sales escapades, and she is charitable and doesn't takes service obligations lightly. Crowds give her endless stress especially in her home (it takes an hour of snuggling with a case of paper towels to recover from a party), but she would be lost without daily contact with parents and siblings.
I am most proud of her as a mom of course. Without her, I'm sure the kids and I would constantly end up explaining to neighbors why we were dancing around a bonfire in the backyard (of course Aimee would have us naked ;), roasting marshmallows till all hours of the night, and neglecting the yardwork until kids could only escape the front lawn with they aid of a highly trained search party. She keeps us on task (yes, she acts like my mother as well), and without her help we'd probably all be Democrats.
The past couple years have been exciting, rough, fun, frantic, rewarding and stressful. We've made it through them to become a more functional family with a refined vision of who we want to be (although Avyrlie has known all along she wants to be Princess Aurora). We are blessed beyond measure with health, family, successes, and beagles, and hope to someday deserve half of it.
What on earth does any of this have to do with the Grantsville game? While watching Ian struggle and succeed on field I realized more profoundly than ever, that Ian now has as much of a role in determining outcomes in his life as his parents do. It's exciting and terrifying to see how much and how little control you have simultaneously in guiding your childrens' future.
If you've read this far, I apologize. I wrote this more for myself than you and am feeling selfishly satisfied. Check back soon for pix that are much more interesting than the ramblings of my emotional exhaustion ;)