Family Practice: Punt, Pass and KickWritten by Shannon Szyperski | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Even though he has little desire to play on a team, my son, Jack, has quite the general interest in football. I remembered the NFL’s Punt, Pass and Kick competition I took part in as a child and decided to see if it was still out there. Not only did I find it online, but I was even able to sign him up for a local contest. Attempting to be PC and not exclude anyone, I decided to ask my no-interest-in-sports, I-would-trade-my-lunch-for-a-hit-of-lipstick daughter, Elaine, if she would also be interested.
As she does with just about everything, Elaine hemmed and hawed right up until the morning of the competition and landed on “thanks, but no thanks” once she discovered that the event had nothing to do with karate. Apparently, the “kick” part of the competition stood out in her mind, but she had it confused with the “hi-ya!” variety. As she watched the other children practice, however, she somewhat inexplicably decided to give it a try at the last minute.
After years of her running away screaming at gymnastics, lying facedown in the middle of the court during basketball and rolling up her mat and standing by the door 10 minutes into parent/child yoga class, it was my greatest hope that Elaine would just attempt to punt, pass and kick a football in front of an unfamiliar crowd without an earth-shattering meltdown. As much as it makes sense in my head to just cease all activities for her involving strange faces and places, I know in the long run that continuing to throw her into her own personal lion’s den on occasion is the only way she’ll learn how to eventually fight her way out.
As Jack and Elaine took their turns that sunny afternoon, they were each striving for two very different things. I proudly watched as Jack put forth his standard best effort and Elaine followed suit without hesitation or even the slightest hint of entering “freak out” mode. Jack took second place and Elaine won by just sticking with it, which was also a huge win for my husband and me as parents.
Unfortunately, parents don’t always think far enough ahead. In my excitement that Elaine had faced her fears, I failed to realize right away that she was the only girl in her girls-only age group. She not only won by sticking with it, she had literally won (even if it was by default).
Of course, the next leg of the contest couldn’t be located around the corner or on a day we didn’t have anything else planned. It was 30 miles away and landed on the same day as Jack’s soccer game, the fall festival and parade we usually attend and an out-of-town wedding shower. It would put a crimp in just about all of our plans that weekend.
In our tradition of making life harder than it has to be, we left it up to Elaine and she was game. In fact, she was excited about the whole thing.
In spite of the situation’s possibly fragile outcome, we traded the festival, parade, a post-parade party and even the much-anticipated wedding shower for three minutes of our no-interest-in-sports, I-would-trade-my-lunch-for-a-hit-of-lipstick daughter punting, passing and kicking a football in cold and rainy Wauseon, Ohio. It was a great day. Elaine willingly left our sides among strangers, “performed” in front of a crowd and stood patiently in the cold rain for an hour or so as the other competitors took their turns. She even had one heck of a kick off of the tee as the youngest contestant there. Between Elaine sustaining her commitment and Jack taking a backseat to his sister’s success without so much as a grunt, it was perhaps the most fantastic Punt, Pass and Kick fourth place out of four finish ever.
Columnist Shannon Szyperski and her husband Michael are raising three children in Sylvania. Email her at email@example.com.