Watching our four sons play sports has been one of the biggest thrills of my life, even if I don’t know what’s going on most of the time. I stand when I’m supposed to, whoop it up at the appropriate times, and occasionally even know who fouled whom and why.
Yet, the hardest part about watching your children compete is when there are injuries.
From the time our sons began playing sports many years ago, they laid down the law. If they are injured, I as a mother am never, even once, ever allowed to run to their aid. Rather, I’m to stay in my seat and remain composed.
It would be the worst thing ever, they lamented, to not only be injured, but to have an overly emotional mother running out on the turf or the basketball court screaming, “Oh, my baby, no!”
“Dad can come out because he won’t act like a noob,” they instructed. “But you just stay put and keep your little spot in the stands warm.”
Isn’t that a fine how-do-you-do?
When our little Charlie broke his arm in a football game several years ago, I stayed put for a minute or two as I heard my children’s firm instructions being played out in my head, and then I did what I had to do.
In all honesty, I believe the boys were less upset about Charlie’s broken arm than my reaction to it.
“She didn’t really come all the way out to the 20-yard line, did she?” they asked of Charlie with obvious revulsion.
“Yeah, yeah she did,” Charlie said, and in doing so caused the entire male-dominated Clinch clan to glare at me in disgust.
I kept this in mind when our Lawrence sat on the sidelines a year or two later with three medical professionals and a priest looking at him closely. I did run down the bleachers two at a time, but I did not rush out onto the field and thankfully so, because a split lip might not have justified the reaction that I would have presented to the audience.
As I sat in the stands at a recent basketball game, I was cheering with the best of them. When Charlie came off the court, I remained seated. As the athletic trainer looked at Charlie’s head with concern, the clock stood still for me. The game went on in the background, the crowd applauded a three-pointer and cheerleaders cheered, but I did not take my eyes off our youngest son.
Then Charlie stood, turned to look at the crowd and when we locked eyes, he motioned for me to come down.
Naturally, no one else in the audience saw it because they were watching a defensive struggle under the basket that finally opened up when the basketball was passed to the waiting guard who answered with an outside shot. But I am here to tell you the summons happened.
The trainer met me halfway and told me that thankfully, Charlie just had a little cut that bled a lot, but would heal well. Patting myself on the back for not making an “Oh, my baby no!” scene, I returned to my seat.
“Did you really just go down there?” a fellow fan asked upon my return.
“Yeah,” someone else joined in. “Did the trainer stop you from going all the way to the bench?”
“I was summoned!” I said in my defense. “And if you people had been watching Charlie and not the game, you would have seen it!”
Some fellow fans laughed in disbelief at my story and I could see others shake their heads in a proverbial, “tsk, tsk.”
“Do your other sons know you broke the No. 1 rule?” Tanner, the radio announcer, asked the next night as he covered his microphone.
“Charlie motioned for me to come down!” I said again in my defense.
“Suuurrre he did,” Tanner said with a wink. “For twenty bucks I’ll tell them I saw the summons.”
I pray there is never another Clinch sports injury, but if there is and it involves a summons, I will send their Dad down so he can be the one to look like a noob.
Lori Clinch is the mother of four sons and the author of the book “Are We There Yet?” You can reach her by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.