Writing on the Wall

Kyle getting his game on!

I sat transfixed; eyes focused on the head coach, listening to him describe the prestigious football program of his private high school and all that it offered to my son. The moment seemed surreal.

I glanced around at the plush meeting room of the athletic department and tried not to pinch myself.  It was a gorgeous facility, well-appointed and filled with the trophies and titles of students past- a tribute to the blood, sweat and tears of dedicated coaches and athletes.

In the middle of the room, directly in front of the coach, perched my boy and his best friend; looking impossibly mature for their thirteen years. The boys leaned in, hungry to hear every word of the coach’s vision, so eager for the opportunity to pursue football glory. A passel of parents surrounded them, including my husband, ex-husband and Kyle’s step-mom. 

The baby and I sat on the floor near the edge of the room. After an extensive tour of the academic facilities, we were now into our third hour, and the baby’s patience was wearing thin.  Naptime had long come and gone and baby Kolby was near the end of her tiny toddler rope. I tried to distract her with a pen and a brochure I picked up along the way, but she whimpered and wiggled by my side scribbling on the paper while I tried to focus on the coach’s words.

I thought it would be so easy picking the right school for my son to attend. Let’s see…what district are we in?  I guess he’ll go there.  But I didn’t anticipate birthing a crushing tackler.  It seems to have changed the whole ballgame.

Coaches from random schools come up to me and ask to shake my son’s hand.  Seriously?

It reminds me of a delicate dance of courtship. Schools, much like a suitor, present their facility in pomp and circumstance, displaying their grand academia and illustrious sports programs. My son and his buddy, the belles of the ball (or stud athletes in this case) are fiercely protected by their mammas and daddies, who want to make sure their beloved boy has the best chance of success on and off the field.

And while there are no football scholarships for high school, there are opportunities with great programs that will give our son a better shot at garnering one in the future.

But all this wooing and playing hard to get, this unspoken ritual of team building, had me all worn out.

Then all of a sudden I felt the head coach’s eyes on me. I turned to look at the baby and a hush went around the room.  Kolby had moved from drawing on the paper to applying masterful pen-strokes to the athletic office walls with her ball point pen and in the blink of an eye destroyed a section of crisply painted walls. They were big black marks swirled in a pattern of childish delight.

I pulled the pen away from her hand and turned with remorse towards the coaching staff.  “I’m so sorry; I’ll pay for the damage.” I groaned.

The head coach raised his eyebrows.

I wanted to crawl in a hole and hide from embarrassment. “So much for remaining aloof and noncommittal,” I whispered to the baby.

Tears of humiliation stung my eyes and threatened to leak out.

(I just know they think I’m a terrible mom)

The room remained quiet and everyone held their breath.

I looked up at the head coach, and he smiled back and shook his head, silently communicating not to worry about baby’s graffiti.  His eyes twinkled with empathy, even levity, and I relaxed and finally smiled again.

 And I knew, in that exact moment, this is where I want my son to go to high school.

This man’s grace towards a bumbling mother spoke volumes about the integrity of his program and the condition of his heart.  I knew he would take care of my son, not only in football but in life as well.

And now that we’ve already left our mark on their wall, maybe it’s a sign.

(Of course, a large inheritance would also be a good sign to help foot the bill)

Donations welcome.

Baby Kolby--Born to be Wild

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