I am looking forward to watching her blossom into a young woman. She is so smart that it catches me off guard sometimes. Her mind is quick, and she can put together puzzles and learn games way above her age range.
I should have known that she would be athletic. The girl could hold up her own head when she was less than 24 hours old. My daughter always said that she was doing calisthenics in the womb.
When Chloe was 4 years old, she sat on Santa’s lap and asked him for a Ninja Warrior outfit, plus weapons. To his credit, Santa did not laugh at this tiny little girl with huge blue eyes. Her demeanor told how serious she was about her request. To Chloe, that outfit was not a costume to play in. She studied the Ninja culture, practiced the moves, and became Ninja.
Suddenly, the child who could not walk anywhere in the house without sounding like a herd of elephants evolved into a Stealth Ninja. When she dressed as a Ninja, she could be quiet. Eerily silent. She had a fabulous time sneaking up on people and scaring the Dickens out of them. I was relieved when she grew out of the outfit and lost all the weapons.
At the age of 6 years, Chloe decided she wanted to play football. There was a youth football league that had a 6-and-under team. Once her parents talked it over, papers were signed, and equipment was assigned. The uniforms were hand-me-downs, but each player needed to have fresh new cleats, pads, and a regulation helmet. Oh, and it was mandatory that the kids practiced putting the helmet on and snapping it in place. Walking around the house with it on to get used to the weight. Then – they had to unsnap themselves and take their helmet off. By themselves. Or they were not allowed to play.
You would have thought that helmet practice would be fun. It was not. I was under strict orders to make Chloe do the required practice every day while she was staying with us for a week in the summer. No problem. We can make a game out of it. I assumed too much. The padded helmet was WAY TOO TIGHT to easily slide on her head. No matter how we put up her hair, it got pulled. Once she was wearing the helmet, Chloe wanted it immediately off her head. It was too heavy. It was too hot. It made her neck hurt. I tried to explain to her that once she practiced enough, putting the helmet on & off would be a piece of cake.
The convincer? I told her I was tired of nagging her, and she knew what she needed to do to play football. I bet Vernon Davis’s grandma didn’t have to nag him, I added.
Closer to the season’s start, my daughter found out a few things about the youth football program from other moms she knew that had kids in the program last year. I found these things to be quite disturbing. Did Chloe know about all this? As a matter of fact, she did know. She had classmates that played for the league, so she knew way more than we did, and she still wanted to play. She would be the only girl on the team. They play tackle football (not flag or otherwise), and the coaches were tough.
Hubby and I happened to be visiting for the weekend when the first practice was held. At 8:00 am sharp, our girl was on the field doing drills. Those who goofed off or didn’t listen to instructions were sent to the outer edge of the field to run a lap. This “lap” was at least 1/2 mile. By 9:00, the temperature was 95 F. Water breaks were more often, but the work remained the same. Moms had their player’s water bottles, and they had to meet the player at the edge of the field. Only 2 minutes for a water break.
It was at 9:15 when the first player snapped. He was sobbing so hard that his words were not understandable. He wanted to go home. He did NOT want to play football anymore. He sat on the ground, rocking himself and whining to no one in particular.
A couple more snapped before 9:30. At 9:50, Miss Chloe drug herself off the field, sat down with her water bottle, and was not going to get up. Her mom calmly sat next to her, and they quietly discussed matters. Chloe ran out to the field and told her coach she was losing it and could she take a little break? She could, he said. “Come back when you’re ready,” he told her. Within five minutes, she was back. I hope that I complimented my daughter on being a great mom that day. Moms don’t get credit for a lot of the things they handle wisely. I did not have to hear what she said to Chloe to know that it was the perfect blend of comfort, reality, and advice.
Two hours of difficult exercise in the hot sun, wearing heavy equipment for the first time in their young lives. I think one hour before it got hot would have been sufficient to get the point across that this was not P.E., and we take our football seriously. Where did they get these coaches from? The NFL? No, worse. They were High School coaches.
Parents & family members were tired and shaky, and we only stood or sat there and watched these men torture our babies. (Sorry, kids, but 5 and 6-year-olds are babies) When the players were released from the practice, they were asleep in the back seat. Once home, they drug their equipment bags into their room and took a nap. Only a few did not even remove their helmets. It was a grueling experience for the whole family.
Trying to make a long story a little shorter, Chloe thrived playing football. And she was good at it. No matter what position the coach would put her in. Because she was the fastest runner on the team, they wanted her to be a running back. She did some kicking and quarterbacking too. She asked me once, “Grandma are you proud of me when I kick?”
At first, I was puzzled by the question, but then I realized she was asking me because she knows about my field goal attempt at Candlestick Park. An even longer story.
“I am so proud of you no matter what you do!” You are the bravest girl I know.”
COVID-19 shut down the Junior football league for a couple of years, so Chloe did not advance to the 10 and under group. When the season began last year, she opted out. The boys were much bigger and stronger. They also resented her being a girl. With boys on the visiting teams trying to hurt her, Chloe decided that playing was not as fun anymore. She retired from football while in her prime. Now she does other sports: Volleyball, Track, and Cross-Country.
She still likes watching the 49ers with Grandma. There is something about squealing over touchdowns and boo-ing referees with your grandchild to make football season even more fun than it ever was before.
Yesterday, Chloe became 13, and she received her first cell phone. I am so happy for her! Now she won’t have to borrow mine to talk to her boyfriend(s).
A teenager has been born.
2 thoughts on “So, She is 13 Now…”
😍I do miss watching her play….though now i get to learn the rules to her new sports of basketball, and volleyball…
I forgot she was playing basketball also! Sheesh. And she still has all that energy when she isn’t playing something.