This is really Saturday morning's post... but I took Saturday recovering from what you're about to read about. So here ya go... pretend it's Saturday.
“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” Nick Carraway, from F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby
Last night was a hallowed time in the state of Texas. I don't know when the tradition began, but I'm sure it will continue long after I'm gone. Entire movies and television shows have been inspired by it and the passion that surrounds it.
And now, our little version of Texas Friday Night Lights.
It's all about the boys and the ball and finding that end zone more than the other guys. It's a really big deal down here. Pretty much everyone is at the game on Friday night in a small town. But there's a subculture that I obviously will never think gets enough press, and it was my first love. Texas, ladies and gentlemen, is a band state.
So, to share this tradition with our kids, we go to the home games. Richie and Maelynn love it and they're so easy to deal with most of the time. They just want to run and play with their friend, the head director's youngest son. That's where Richie wished he was when I took this one:
And you can see where Ryan starts. At his drum, playing along (well, mostly) with the band. Back behind, so maybe he won't interfere too much.
Then the mascot came over. Yes, you are seeing a goat. We are and will always be the Groesbeck Goats. No, I have no idea why... but I like it! It's unique. And it kinda rolls off the tongue. Say it with me..." Go Goats!" Nice, right?
Can I give you a hug? Hmm? Richie wasn't into it at all, but sister loved some Billie Jean! Yes, the goat's name is Billie Jean. Or Billy Jean. Not sure. But hey, like I said... unique.
This was toward the middle of the first quarter. Then Ryan discovered that he could mess with the cymbal rack. So much shiny, so much temptation. I wanted to play with it too, but I'm a grownup and I have to do better. And I'm the mommy, so I have to teach him to do better. So my night began running between the cymbal rack (I still want to play with that ice bell) and where his practice-pad covered snare drum.
Yeah, he was playing me.
He figured out that if he went to the drum and started half-hacking the rim with his sticks, I'd come tell him to stop. And while I was going back to the drum, he could make it to the cymbal rack to get one delicious, stolen "ting".
It was pretty much down hill from there as far as his behavior went. I did get to visit with some great people during the third quarter, since the band has a bit of a break then. That time was good, and half time was great. These ARE band directors' kids, and they do know that half time is what we've worked for, so there ya go.
Save a bit of time to visit with some sweet ladies, and the rest of the game was spent running after Ryan.
We sit in the end zone, and there's this huge half-circle of pavement as wide as, well... a football field. Ryan decided that the drainage grate around it looked like a track. Guess what? He ran the length of it the rest of the game. Back and forth. Around and around.
If you know anything about Ryan, you know that he's not terribly good at sensing danger. He'd have run out onto the football field with the boys playing about fifty times that night if I hadn't stopped him.
When I did finally decide I couldn't run after him anymore, things got ugly fast.
He screamed and hit. He demanded ice cream. With all the intensity he could muster, he balled his eight-year-old, puffy little boy fist and pounded himself, his face twisted into tight, frustrated fury. I have to get through a small town football crowd with him in this state, and have to hang onto my five year old and three year old, too.
On the steep stairs at the edge of the concrete home stands, I finally pick him up in one arm, wait for the other two to follow, and keep moving toward the gate... trying the whole time not to think about having to walk the length of the field plus half a parking lot to get there. I actually muttered, "never again" under my breath as I fought to not melt down right there with him.
Once we're at the van, I do the usual. Get the littles in the van and safe, then make sure Ryan understands that screaming and hitting are not allowed inside. Three times I made him get back out.
By the time he was done, leaving early didn't help the traffic issue. I was about to flop over and cry when I mindlessly unlocked my phone and checked my email.
Someone from the other side of my life under Friday Night Lights left the most amazing, meaningful encouragement.
And I straightened in my seat.
I wiped my face.
And I knew I could... would... do it again.
So this morning, I feel like I played football last night. My head is pounding, I'm sore, and ready to take about a month worth of naps. But we will do it again. If I quit now, what's to become of us?
We keep going. We keep asking forgiveness, trying again. Seeking to improve, yet knowing that there isn't much hope of never experiencing this frustration again. It doesn't sound like much of a fight, but when the small-looking fight stops, changes, and dictates your everyday, it's all of a sudden a war.
Thanks be to God for the letters from home that give us what we need to take one more step.
And thanks definitely be that there is no home game next week.