Teenager is a member of Kirkby Lonsdale Rugby Club. He is a forward. For the non rugby folk out there this means he gets very physical in the game. He tackles, scrums, rucks and mauls. It is not a game I hoped he would fall in love with. As one mum said to me today ' what's wrong with ping pong?'.
I preferred it when he was heavily into swimming. I liked it when he was a goalie. I hoped when he had a flirtation with tennis. I kept my fingers crossed when he started playing hockey at school.
But no. One game of rugby and he was bitten. And since then- that's what it's been about. I have never known him so keen on a sport. He never moans about getting up early on a Sunday morning for training. He only sighs and grumbles when he gets a knock and a bruise. He keenly signs up to every match, and next weekend he is going on a rugby tour to Scotland.
Some parents say they won't let their boys ( or girls these days) play. Some have even told me that they think I am irresponsible for letting him get involved in such a 'violent' sport. And it really hurts me when they do. It hurts even more on days like today when you watch a boy taken away by an ambulance after a full on tackle. He was knocked out. He definitely has a broken arm. They think he has a broken rib, perhaps a dislocated shoulder. It was frightening to see. I wish him well: he is a great player and apparently a lovely lad.
So why do I let him do it? I think it is because I know in my heart that it is wrong to ban someone doing something that he or she really loves. I know that however much I want to, I can't protect him from life's hard knocks. I know that the coaches at Kirkby at conscientious, disciplined and meticulous about safety. I know that the game teaches the boys discipline, leadership, team skills and courage. Teenager can look after himself, his confidence has improved, his self discipline has increased and he is starting to understand how to use his strength and physicality in a focussed way. He is fitter than ever, and it is wonderful to see him out in all weathers doing something he loves rather than sitting round all day like a pudding playing on the computer or the playstation. Keeping him indoors to 'protect' him- I know that doesn't make sense.
Rugby does not 'run' in the family. Both grandpas loved cricket and football. Other half played football. My mum loves the game but never played. Yet teenager seems born to play,and is certainly built to play.
So I pray every time he plays, and hope I am doing the right thing. Like every mum and dad on the touch line.