I think I’ve mentioned before that The Boy (my 14-year-old freshman) is a rather large kid. Weight training has transformed him from a big meatball into a more solid meatball. So it made sense when some of his football teammates wanted him to wrestle.
He had already told me that there was no way he was going to wrestle. I told him that he owed it to himself to go to a practice before deciding. He did and he didn’t care for the constant invasion of his personal space.
He’s not a big hugger like his dad. In football he can hit a kid and be done with him. If they happen to embrace it’s usually not for long. Oh, and maybe memories of kissy-kissy time had something to do with it.
Kissy-kissy time? Well … it was something I did with all of my kids when they were young. I’d be on my knees while they tried running past me. I’d tackle them, pin them down, and kiss all over their chubby, laughing little faces while singing, “kissy-kissy time” repeatedly. Hey, it was more merciful than tickling them until they couldn’t breathe.
So, it appeared that wrestling was out. Secretly I was thrilled. The sport is brutal on parents. Of all the sports in high school, it requires the most patience and commitment from us.
A week or so later, he was abducted and taken to wrestling practice. I received a text, “Dad, I’m not going to the weight room for football today. I’m going to try wrestling again.” I laughed and forgot about it.
A few hours later a large kid entered my house. He babbled non-stop about his love for wrestling. About how tough practice was and how he couldn’t wait until tomorrow. He didn’t smell like The Boy. He didn’t sound like him either.
Turns out it was the same boy who we house, clothe and feed. But he was not making sense. He had hated wrestling when he left the house that morning. When he got on the bus I still had Wednesday nights and Saturdays free.
I’m a wrestling parent now. I watch high school boys (and girls) rolling around on mats, wearing earmuffs and Onesies and trying to twist each other’s bodies like pipe cleaners. At first I thought I’d get to come up with a costume and nickname for him. But apparently that’s not until later in their careers — maybe after college. I had some great ideas too.
So, we went to his first match. He was nervous. So were we. He’d only practiced a week or so. He arrived at the gym at 7:30 a.m. He didn’t wrestle until 3 p.m. As he stood up to start his walk to the mat, my wife said to me, “I can’t watch. Quick, go pull the fire alarm.” He pinned his opponent in 31 seconds.
Crazy as it sounds, the boys do not wear cups. It is quickly apparent and rather shocking if the thought hadn’t crossed your mind on the ride there. A mouth guard is only required if you wear braces. It’s only important to wear the earmuffs.
Within 15 minutes, the entire place smells of blood, sweat and butt. Before their match, each wrestler puts either a red or green Velcro band around their ankle to make scoring easier. It never gets disinfected. The mats get wiped down if there is any sign of blood. Aside from that a kid is slobbering around on the snot, drool, and sweat of 30 to 50 other kids.
Sanitizing anything during the tournament itself doesn’t rank high on the list of important moves. My wife and I had a jug of disinfectant and a clean towel ready, but The Boy ignored our prompts to come close enough for us to wipe him down. Even the concessions guy handed me a slice ungloved.
The referees wear a green and a red wrist band to signal which wrestler gets points. He also has a big cardboard coin. One side is red and the other is green. And just like the Batman villain, Two-Face, he’ll often toss it into the air to decide the fate of one of them.
Most of the wrestlers have an iSomething to listen to music before their match. Half of them have Beats headphones. If there isn’t an opponent for a kid, he listens to a lot of music.
When the wrestlers start off, they kind of slap at the other’s hands like patty cakes. I almost started singing, “My mother and your mother where hanging out clothes. My mother punched your mother right in the nose…”
As far as cheering, I said whatever the coach yelled. Coach said, “Flip him!” So I yelled, “Flip him Boy.” Coach said, “Build a base!” Not sure what it meant but I yelled, “Build your base Boy.” Coach said, “Hips up!” I yelled, “Hips up Boy.”
I’m a wrestling parent now. Please excuse me while I go and treat some Tinea Corporis.