Gifts for Mom, Grandparents, Besties and YOU🎄 ➔

My son loves football. The season is almost upon us again and those fears of what other kids will do to him rattles my nerves already. I’m afraid of what the kids who are poor sports will do to him. He has been the victim of unsportsmanlike behavior that has enraged this mama bear to the edge. It has taken all my restraint to not go ballistic.

Kids get riled up and they might go too far, and I get that. But when it’s a blatant act of intent to do harm, my blood boils. It boils for any kids I see who are the victim of an intentional angry act but when it’s my own kid, it really curdles my blood. I wonder what their parents and coaches are teaching them or not teaching them when they act out of brutality.

When my son was in fourth grade he loved to run the ball as a running back. He was a fast runner, one of the fastest in his grade and with his thin muscular frame this position was a perfect fit for him. In a mid-October game, his team was playing a particularly rough team whose parents shouted from the sidelines saying things like “Kill ‘em!” and other phrases I think should never come out of parents’ mouths like “Slam ‘em down!” or “Knock ‘em dead!” The parent spectators on our team’s side were tame and more encouraging. We’d shout “Go Johnny!” or “Good play!” or “Way to go!” Well let’s just say the kids on the team we were playing matched the parent brutal comments.

One kid in particular was being unnecessarily aggressive. He had hit hard enough to make three of our team players sit out. According to the kids, this player was being downright brutal and mean. The refs didn’t pull him from the game, but I wish they would have because his next brutal move hurt my child. Tackle football is rough, that’s a given. But there is a correct and good sportsmanlike way to tackle and there’s an illegal way to tackle. He charged at my son and speared my son from the side leading with his head. His helmet slammed into my son’s helmet knocking my son to the ground. He didn’t even see him coming.

Our coach screamed, “Hey! You can’t tackle like that! That’s illegal.” He was steaming mad.

My son crumpled to the ground and I could hear him crying from the sidelines. He doesn’t usually cry when tackled so I knew damage had been done. He sat on the sidelines for a while. He seemed fine and even said he felt fine. The refs finally pulled brutal kid from the game. It took four kids sitting out for injuries for the refs to pull this kid from the game. But the harm was already done and it couldn’t be undone.

My son went back into the game so I figured he must be feeling fine. The coaches had assessed him and deemed him OK to return to the game. It wasn’t until after the game when he told my husband and I that he had a headache when he went back into the game. I got a sick feeling in my gut. Being a nurse, I knew immediately we might have a serious problem.

The headache didn’t go away; it was still there the next morning. I called the pediatrician. I got the dreaded request from the doctor to take him in for assessment for a concussion. Our appointment was for the next day. We saw signs of concussion in him in addition to the headache. He was clumsy and would just fall down laughing and being silly. He had trouble sleeping and was irritable. Ibuprofen didn’t alleviate his headache either.

The doctor told us he had a mild concussion. He had to sit out of football playoffs, out of gym, and even out of recess for over a month. No physical activity at all. He’s an active kid, so this was so hard for him. He was given only 50% of the schoolwork to allow his brain to heal. He was assigned physical therapy to re-establish balance.

We later heard the child who hurt him was told how he his spearing illegal hit resulted in a concussion and he cried. Nice sentiment, but he couldn’t undo what he had done.

The next year in football my son was running the ball again in a game and was the victim of harming unsportsmanlike behavior again. His team was winning by a lot like twenty to zero. The other team was mad about it. The players were stomping on our kids’ hands when they were down, kicking them in the back, and face-masking (which is when a player grabs the metal face mask and pulls which is illegal and can cause significant harm). My son had the ball and he was within six feet of making a touchdown when he was tackled. He got up as usual.

The coach called a time out and I saw streams of brown down my son’s cheeks. At that point I didn’t know what had happened, I thought perhaps he was crying because he was hurt. He shook it off and went back into the game. He made the touchdown and then he told us the full story.

The player on the other team was so furious, he had picked up a handful of dirt and threw it in my son’s eyes while he was still lying on the ground. This made it look like he was crying. The dirt caused his eyes to water which made him lose his contacts out on the field. But he was determined to not let that stop him. He went back into the game without contacts. With a dirt and tear stained face, he made that touchdown.

I’d never been so proud of him in my life. He didn’t let the other player stop him. He kept going and he succeeded. 

It’s truly a rough sport but he loves it and though it makes me nervous with all the kids out there who play dirty, I’m happy to say it doesn’t stop my son. He keeps fighting the good fight. He follows the rules, he doesn’t get thrown out of games for illegal moves, and he honors the goodness of the sport.

As a parent, I wish all parents and coaches would teach their kids that hurting someone in not worth any win. It’s just a game and hurting someone is not OK. When kids aren’t taught to be good sports, no one wins.


If you liked this, you'll love our new book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available for pre-order now!

Pre-Order Now

Julie Hoag

Julie Hoag is a freelance writer and blogger, wife, and mom to three busy boys, & fur mama to two rescue dogs and two guinea pigs. She writes on her blog about motherhood, kids, family, recipes, DIY, travel, and faith. She is a vegetarian who loves to cook and create recipes when she’s not driving her three boys all over town to sports practices in her crumb-filled minivan. In her past life she has worked as a Scientist and Medical Data Manager, a pediatric nurse, and a SAHM. She loves to volunteer in her kids’ schools and help fundraise money for their schools. She is a Christian who loves nature, animals, traveling, gardening, swimming in her pool, and simply spending time with her family. Her favorites are dark chocolate, red wine, and cheese with yummy bread.

10 Lessons I Hope You Learn Playing Youth Sports

In: Kids, Motherhood
Boy dribbling down basketball court, black-and-white photo

Last night was my sixth grader’s last basketball game of the season. He played with many of the same gang of boyhood friends he has known since kindergarten. This year, however, they were introduced to a traveling team, older players, and much stiffer competition than they had encountered in the past. They stood the test and played their little boy hearts out. I am proud of my son, his team, his coaches, and all the familiar faces we came to know in the Greenwood Laboratory School cheering section each week, sometimes two to three times in one week!  Here’s to...

Keep Reading

I Love You At Every Stage

In: Kids, Motherhood
Three children at park, color photo

Confession: I love the 1-year-old phase. Our youngest is one and such a joy to be around. He’s still so cuddly, finds such joy in the smallest things, is learning new things every day, and smiles at every little thing his big brother and sister do. I love the 3-year-old phase. Our only girl is three. She has a flair for the dramatic, but she is very forthright with her feelings. “I’m having a hard time.” “I just miss my daddy when he’s at the Fire House.” “I’m a princess.” “God made me beautiful.” She is quick to be a...

Keep Reading

Simple Moments Shape Childhood

In: Kids, Motherhood
Little boy in shallow water of beach

Sometimes it’s the little things that can turn out to be the biggest things. Motherhood has made me appreciate the everyday moments, the simple moments, differently.  Being outdoors with my boys can be simple in theory, but I absolutely love the adventures we take. Whether we are hiking, biking, swimming, exploring, or checking out a new park, this momma knows it is time well spent.  RELATED: I’m Watching You Grow Up in the Little Moments Because whether they realize it or not, these memories being made are the special ones. The ones my boys will carry with them in their...

Keep Reading

I Promise to Show Up for You

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother and daughter in garden

My child, I hope you know you can count on this: I will show up for you. I will show up when you wake in the middle of the night, when you get up too early or stay up too late. I will be there to make your meals, read you a story, and tuck you into bed. I will show up when you are sick—taking time off work, bringing you to the doctor, cleaning up your throw-up, and sitting up with you. I will show up at every game, sitting in the stands or a camp chair, freezing or...

Keep Reading

Sometimes Growth Is Tangible, and When It Is You Hold On Tight

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mom putting bike helmet on child

I never expected my sign to come in the form of a plastic bag. As a parent, you’re told over and over how fast it all goes, to cherish these times because they’re gone in a blink. You see the gradual changes in your kids as they move through milestones. One day, they can hold their own spoon. They begin stringing words into sentences. Their ages are counted in years and no longer months. You watch these things happen every day, but I didn’t realize some transitions would come in tangible ways, like a grocery bag filled with wet swim...

Keep Reading

Some Nights They Need You a Little More

In: Kids, Motherhood
Little boy sleeping, color photo

Some nights they need you a little more, mama. Because of the bad dreams or the bogeyman they are adamant is under the bed. Because firefighter daddy’s schedule leaves him missing goodnight tuck-ins and bedtime stories several times a week, sometimes leaving them a little needier and more emotional. Some nights they need you a little more, mama. RELATED: I’ll Lay With You As Long As You Need, My Child Because they are sick. Because they feel safe in your presence. Some nights they need you a little more, mama. It’s not always easy. It’s not always (okay, hardly ever)...

Keep Reading

Sweet Babies, I’ll Be There

In: Kids, Motherhood
Two children lying in bed, color photo

When your world is calm and peaceful, I’ll be there. When your world is chaotic like an ice cream shop on the hottest day of summer, I’ll be there. When you need a Band-Aid applied and a boo-boo kissed, I’ll be there. When you want to perform in your Frozen microphone like you’re performing for a crowd of 20,000 people, I’ll be there. When you feel lost and alone, I’ll be there. When you feel you have nowhere to go, I’ll be there. RELATED: I Will Always Be There When You Need Me, My Son When you need a pep...

Keep Reading

I’m in the Big Little Years

In: Kids, Motherhood
black and white photo of little boy and little girl standing in a window together

I’m in the big little years. It’s when you’re no longer in the tender season of babies and toddlers—those sweet, smothering, exhausting years of being constantly touched and needed . . . . . . but you’re not yet in the big kid years—navigating boyfriends and driver’s licenses and bracing your heart for the impending ache of an empty nest. I’m somewhere in between. I’m in the years of having littles that aren’t so little anymore, but still need you for so much. They have big feelings. Big ideas. Big dreams. But they have mostly little problems (even though they...

Keep Reading

1-Year-Olds Are Wonderful

In: Baby, Kids, Motherhood, Toddler
1 year old baby smiling

Newborns—who doesn’t love them?  The captivating scent of a brand new baby, their fragile little bodies laying so delicately on your chest. Everything that comes with a newborn baby is just absolute magic. But have you ever had a 1-year-old? I used to think the newborn phase was my favorite, nothing could ever be better than having such a tiny helpless little human rely on you for absolutely everything. I could hold my newborn for hours, soaking in every tiny little detail before it became nothing but a beautifully distant memory. But I’ve realized it’s 1-year-olds who have a special...

Keep Reading

My Kids Are All in School Now and It’s a Little Lonely

In: Kids, Motherhood
Woman looking out window alone

I had just dropped my children off at school. All of them. My youngest has just started full-time. It was my first full day on my own since she began, and I had really been looking forward to it, so I took myself into town to do a bit of shopping and grab a coffee. Just me. The kind of days dreams are made of, right? I could suddenly breathe again.  I only had myself to answer to.  I got my latte and something to eat. And then I cried.  My eyes filled with tears as I sat in the...

Keep Reading