First of all, I was literally JUST ABOUT to tell you that I was wrong and the doctor was right. I was JUST ABOUT to say that no one else got strep, but Sophia and I just had a little piddling cold, nothing to run after antibiotics for.
But then just now Max croaked up the stairs, "Mom? My throat hurts and I feel bad."
So. I guess the jury's still out, huh?
Nonetheless, Raphael was well enough this weekend to participate in his first ever wrestling tournament. He started wrestling last year, and I'll just give you a minute to puzzle out which of his parents thought THAT was a good idea. Go ahead, give it a good think. *hums Jeopardy theme song*
So needless to say, Clay and Raphael were very excited about this tournament. I was...prepared to support them, because love is blind. And stupid. And helpless in the face of mass hysteria.
It all started with a weigh in. Wait, let me back up and tell you the things that bother me about wrestling. First, there is the actual wrestling. That sort of behavior would NOT be tolerated in my living room. I have so waded into altercations that looked exactly like what they do on those mats and grabbed the participants by their respective ears. During the tournament, Clay leaned over to me and whispered, "Can you try not to look so...horrified? You kind of look like an amateur." I AM an amateur.
I also don't care for the fact that the whole deal is a racket. We pay for Raphael to be on the team. We bought sodas to donate so they could sell them at the tournament. We most certainly pay hours of time for practices and other nonsense. And then? We had to pay to get INTO the tournament. Seriously.
And then I hate the weigh ins.
Raphi presented himself for weighing and soon came back to me with a grin and his weight written on his arm in sharpie - 70.2. Now, never mind that I, personally, would gnaw my arm off before appearing in public with it advertising my actual, down to the ounce weight. Raphael is NOT ME. This has been amply demonstrated, and was underscored by the fact that he thought the weight-on-arm thing was kind of cool. However, this put him in the 70.1 - 75 pound weight category. Get that? This insured that he would be the smallest wrestler in his category. This is Not Good.
And sure enough, the first guy he wrestled was enormous. He was a massive giant of a ten year old, and he pinned Raphael rather...adroitly. It was not a happy moment. I was sitting in the bleachers, watching with my hand clapped over my mouth in horror, and Max and Tre even took a break from punching each other to ask me what was wrong (those two, by the way? are making me insane with their testosterone and energy and punching each other and breaking things. Insane). I wanted to rush down to the mat and scoop my baby up and comfort him, but he was busy yanking off his head gear and conferring with Clay. A while later he had time to come sit on my lap and be sad, but first he and Clay had to sort it all out.
And it was okay, because there was another match coming up. After seventeen trillion hours of waiting, Raphael was back on the mat, bouncing around as he waited for his opponent. And when that opponent stepped onto the mat? There I was, clapping my hand over my mouth again. The child was ENORMOUS. He was at least seven feet tall, with a physique something like vintage Arnold Schwarzenegger. This may be a slight exaggeration. Children in the mother's memory may appear more ominous than they actually were. But the fact remains that he was larger than Raphael. He was at the tippy-top of their weight class, and all his pounds were used to make tallness and muscles. Raphael, lolling at the very bottom of their class, uses much of his poundage to make adorableness and charm.
I literally waved at Clay down there, on the mat, trying to get his attention and make him stop that giant child from hurting my baby. I like to think that he just didn't happen to notice me, not that he was ignoring my mommy madness. That's what I like to think, anyhow.
And then they started and...Raphael was like a force of nature. He was simply so FIERCE. I'm just learning how this wrestling deal works, but even I could tell that he was holding his own. What's more, according to the score, he was actually winning. (Clay informs me that Raphi nearly pinned the other kid - TWICE. And he was up by five points. Or seven. Lots of points.)
It took my breath away, seeing him down there. He was working so hard that the expression on his face reminded me of someone giving birth. I'm sure he wouldn't appreciate the comparison, but that's the only thing I can think of that comes close to the kind of effort he put into that match.
And it wasn't just physical effort, either. Wrestling is really like chess, played in the medium of sweaty little boy bodies. Raphael was out thinking him...right up until he made one mistake.
Enormous boy flipped him...I watched Raphael squirm frantically underneath him, trying to regain control...but it was just too much...and he was pinned.
This time he was really upset. He'd gotten smacked in the eye during the match, and he was hurt and exhausted and deeply disappointed. A few minutes later, as I walked him out to get some water, he threw up. The sheer amount of work he'd put into that match just undid him.
So allow me to sum up here: Raphael is a wrestler now. He is totally devoted to it. I hate almost everything about it, and that fact really doesn't matter here. It stresses me out, it's probably the hardest thing he's ever tried, and he and Clay are co-conspirators in wrestling. I kind of wish the whole sport would be outlawed.
And I simply could not be prouder of this little warrior here.