Mid-August in Texas can only mean one thing: it is time for football season, finally!
Before we can start school and focus on the upcoming schedule, we tune up with "two-a-days." In its purest form, that means teams practice in the early morning, take a break, and come back in the evening for a second practice, thus avoiding practice during the hottest part of the day.
It is a very smart idea, although, as a mom with two kids, of course, I run two-a-day camp all summer long: preparing two meals at the very minimum twice a day; back-to-school shopping two a day per child; two trips to the dentist because the appointments need to be spread out, and two trips to the doctor for pre-participation physicals in different parts of the city. The list goes on, as I, like every parent, works to get back in the groove of school.
Back to football, though, has new meaning this year, as my son is starting 7th grade. The rules and regulations are changing. The boys are getting larger, and the hits are harder, so this summer I am trying to stay on top of safety issues. Having watched "The Smartest Team,"  though, I feel well-prepared.
This year, we purchased a new helmet for my son which has air bladders in the lining that have to be pumped up to ensure and maintain a proper fit  on his head. I have had lots of experience pumping up bike tires with air, and the usual assortment of balls for sports, but pumping up a helmet is a new one for me. We have our own pump now. I guess it will travel with us to all his games. The helmet weighs more than our small dog. My son walks around the house in it to strengthen his neck muscles ! I think of it as a small vault for his head to protect all his valuable knowledge.
The Ben Hogan Institute in Dallas does extensive neurocognitive testing on a lot of North Texas athletes. The program has set up "base camps" at several local high schools. As a service to the middle school kids, they are offering a free ImPACT baseline. (I think it is the first time I have heard the word "free" in my 10+ years as a sport parent!) The data is collected for clinical research, and to have in case an athlete sustains a concussion.
Needless to say, I quickly signed up to have my son tested. The tech who administered the test assured me, as in the old joke about what a doctor found on the x-ray of a patient's brain, that they found "Nothing," but that my son would need to come back for a new baseline in two years as his brain "grows and he learns more things."
From a medical perspective, it was great to know my son's brain was healthy and had not been - pardon the pun - impacted by all his years of playing sports and rough housing. The mom side of me, however, thought, "Of course, they found nothing in there. He has forgotten about 6 months of school just watching TV and fishing all summer!" Let's hope he learns something in the next two years so there is something up there when we come back.
Two-a-days aren't just for football players. Our daughter is working out with her drill team two times a day, too. Our son is doing some final tune ups with a great football camp. My bathtub has become like the Great Salt Lake! Yes, Epsom salt baths 2 times a day for the sore and needy. The master bath looks like a spa facility. (Zen music sold separately!)
All of the necessary paperwork has been filled out. Yes, 2 a day, twice a day. My drill team mom functions have been set for a while. I jumped at the chance to volunteer for a bunch of jobs for 7th grade football: snack mom, away game roster keeper, and general coordinator (room mother). I did NOT, however, sign up to be locker room organizer. That seems like a job that not even two times a day could ever help or solve!
I have learned much more about young teen boys in my very own two-a-day camp. While shopping for football "grays" last week, it occurred to me he might need different underwear. Even though I didn't embarass my son by making an announcement over the PA system of the store, my son still turned the color of purple and proclaimed that buying underwear was his dad's job. Oh. Okay. It seemed like we had a perfectly mature conversation about underwear last year (stripes or plaid?), but it seems things have changed. I quietly asked if I could buy him socks, or was that on the "No fly list" as well. I learned that socks were OK. Underwear? Not OK. Ever!
My two a day summer camp is winding down and about to become my two a week Fall. I will be at all varsity games on Friday nights for the drill team daughter, and I am ready for some Tuesday night middle school football action. I am as prepared as any parent can be. Clothes have been purchased; paperwork has been completed with all the required notary stamps; little bodies are fine tuned and rested, and they are ready for another year of learning and sports. Am I going to miss them? Yes, about two times a day!