|Smoky Mountains, September 2013, "Let's all tie our jackets around our waists."|
I'm not the athlete type.
I'm woeful in the physicality department. I don't like to be out of breath; I'm decidedly not talented. The best I can do is swim fairly quickly. And by fairly quickly, I mean probably faster than the average adult. Certainly never was fast enough to swim against people who, you know, swim.
But, I do like sports a lot. I like watching them, screaming loudly (shocker), and keeping up with what's going on. I kept stats at the local little league fields as my favorite high school job, and I briefly managed the basketball team at my high school. I was - and am - an avid football fan. I do know what a cornerback is.
Lately, a telling sports analogy has been in the penumbra of the Forster household:
So, sometimes I'm talking to a grown-up, and I spell something, so that my third child won't know what I'm talking about.
And sometimes, my first and second child just interpret for him.
Great. Thanks. Love that.
This week, for example, we're dealing with Collins's broken arm.
We've been talking to him about the possibilities - surgery to add a wire or pins to help it heal- cast for 4-6 weeks, etc. So, he knows. We're not (and generally are against) keeping any truths from him.
But, I try to not bring up trauma-causing things at inopportune times. We try, as a rule, to discuss serious topics when it's appropriate. But, grandmothers and friends have called over the last few days to check on him. And, in the course of the conversations, a few times I've said, "well, on Tuesday, we'll find out if we need to have s-u-r-g-e-r-y." Again, we're not trying to keep it from him. I'm just not interested in stressing him out constantly.
This afternoon, I said the same thing, on the phone, to my mother. As I said it, I was walking through the dining room, where all three kiddos were visiting at the table.
Collins looked at his siblings. They looked at him. Without missing a beat, they, in unison, said, "Surgery. She spelled surgery."
It is not meant as a betrayal of me (as of course is my first instinct), but, rather, it signifies their loyalty to The Team first.
They are a team. We are the coaches. They love us, respect us, (imperfectly) follow our lead, but, when it comes down to it, they're protecting their quarterback, setting a pick for their forward, handing the baton off to their relay team members.
This first either makes me mad or makes me sad. But, it should do neither. It should make me happy, proud, satisfied, calm.
They can - and naturally do - operate outside of me.
Don't get me wrong - They are with me always. They inadvertently follow me to the restroom for goodness sake.
But, they know what it is to be vested in someone else's interests first. Their identities are independent of mine.
When it comes down to it, they'd never obey one another first. They obey me first. It doesn't occur to them to mind one another. (In fact, it is anathema).
However, it is natural to work for one another, protect one another, fight with and for one another, criticize, help, love one another.
They are each other's teammates.
I do wonder. Are coaches ever jealous?
One day, these dear ones will have another team. It could be a team of one or a team of seven. But, it will be separate, distinct, apart.
And then Paul and I will not even be coaches - but just enthusiastic fans.
Box seats, Monday morning tape reviewing, griping and/or rejoicing over a beer, three-term Presidents of the damn booster club.
All of those things. And more.
But, I'm never going to be a teammate.
And it is so very good for us - and for them - to learn it now.
(Also, we've now had a talk about when I spell something, I meant it to be in code, dadgumit.)