Man Up

Thank all of you for your well wishes and words of support as we have come to grip with our Eldest son’s injury. I am glad to say those three baby stitches are healing nicely but I’m even more happy to announce Eldest mustered his courage and played through the pain in his first 7th grade football game last night. (If you didn’t read that first sentence through the lens of sarcasm, please read again.)

I think it was obvious from the Accident Incident that I’m still stumbling my way through the boy-to-man transition. The Boy Mommy in me wanted to keep my son home last night, put an ice pack on his darlin‘ little head, cover him up on the couch with some Doritos and Sponge Bob, and generally baby him until we were both ready to vomit.

The thing is, he’s not a baby anymore.

That breaks my heart in many ways but it also challenges me in others. His game has shifted from PeeWee to Jr. High. My game has to grow right along with him.

When he was younger, (and I’m still here with three of my children), it was important for him to be secure. To know that the people in his life from family members to teachers loved him, overlooked his faults, and generally accepted him unconditionally.

As he grows his security is still a primary concern but instead of it being a filter through which all things must flow, it should become a rear guard that undergirds all his experiences. At some point the flaws in character; the laziness, the absent-mindedness, the half-heartedness, and/or attitudes of disrespect, etc. need to be addressed – by family, teachers, and other significant figures in my kids’ lives. I am in a constant state of prayer that my children will find favor before God and man but I want it to be an earned favor, not a respect that is handed out freely without due diligence. I am grateful for every person who has demanded more of my son than he would have given were his buttons not pushed or his will not challenged.

Obviously our favor before God is based on salvation and not works, but it still comes at a personal price of self-sacrifice and humility. Favor with man is no different. When I choose to place my children in the care of an adult, whether it be in the classroom or on a playing field, I have to trust God will use that individual to draw the best from him. I must also encourage my son to rise to the occasion of whatever challenge is placed before him. Does he know I love him unconditionally and will catch him when he falls? Absolutely. Do I do him a disservice if I prevent that fall before it happens? YES. No boy ever grew into a man behind the shield of his mom’s apron.

So last night, instead of cartoons, we bandaged our boy’s head and watched him wince as his dad banged on his helmet to see if he could stand the pain (or to numb him – I was never clear on which). He didn’t really want to get hit, but he did. It wasn’t easy, but he soldiered through. He got on that field and played with heart and when it was over said, “It didn’t hurt as bad as I thought it would. I’m glad I played.”

He manned up.

And his mom is proud.