As fall sneaks in through the back door and the last grains of sand from summer are swept out the front door, it can only mean one thing in my house. It's time for football. Which means it's time to argue about whether or not my kid can play tackle football. Sadly, my young son has gone from being happy just watching football on the TV, peacefully sitting on the family room sofa, stuffing chips and dip into his maw, to wanting to play it, decked out in pads, helmet, and mouthguard on a field, next to some giant overly muscled boy with no neck who, for no reason at all, wants to grab my little pumpkin and smash him to the ground. I am not in favor of him playing tackle football. I am a Jewish mother. We like our sons to play sports like badminton and chess and maybe, with enough training and the proper supervision, table tennis. If the table's in the shade. We frown on sports that involve hitting, smacking, and heaving of bodies to the ground.
There have been lengthy talks in my household about playing tackle football. My husband played it in high school and college. My husband is the nicest man you'll ever meet but he can't remember where his wallet or his cell phone is. He can be holding his car keys in his hand and not know where they are. Obviously the helmets don't work. I rest my case. No tackle football. But I am outvoted. I am a girl, after all, and therefore I know nothing about sports. I know one thing: I can't name any white Jewish guys playing in the NFL. (Okay. There are maybe 3, a punter and a couple of back-up quarterbacks, but I still can't name them.)
We signed the kid up for tackle football. He was all set to play on a field with kids who weighed 200 pounds and had nicknames like "Gator" and "The Wall" and "Stomp." You don't see that in competitive checkers. So, there was only one thing I could do. I took my son to a nearby sporting goods store and bought him every protective football pad known to mankind. Shoulder pads, knee pads, thigh pads, stomach pads, back pads, kidney pads, neck roll. If it was padding, we bought it. "What's that over there?" I pointed to a nice, thick pad. "It's a futon, my son said. "We're getting it," I announced. "We'll strap it around your head."
I'm not sure how I'll sit through a whole season watching my little baby run around that field getting hit. I just pray every night he'll be able to outrun "Gator."