Jacob was interviewed by the Yakima Herald for his role in helping bring back football to Highland High School, and frankly, I'm so impressed with his spirit. His seminary teacher said that when she saw this picture of Jacob, she thought, "That is not my Jacob!" But when I saw this picture, I thought with a smile, "There is my Jacob." Klamath Falls peeps will back me up. They knew Jacob from the age of 2-7 years old, what I call the "Destructo-Boy Years." From the time he could scoot across the floor, Jacob has been pushing mightily through life with a determination and passion--and a grin--that made me second guess my parenting skills and had me drawing the conclusion that Jacob's soul must be HUGE and crammed into that tiny little body, so he's just busting to make a place in this world and see what he can do. He's not so tiny anymore and he doesn't break all my stuff anymore, and I don't have to grip his hand so he doesn't run headlong into the heavy traffic of life, but he's still pushing mightily, and his grin is still as big as it was when he was three. I have loved watching this kid tackle what has come at him with grace and ingenuity, determination, humor, and his feet pushing him forward. Often leaving the ground to slam into the ball-carrier.
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The Scotties have a long road ahead of them, and it's still a struggle watching their games. The road blocks? Lack of knowledge and experience, language barrier, and trepidation. How often do you feel a touch of victory when the half-time score is 0-40? And an even greater victory when the final score is 0-47? That was a great second half, by the way. So yeah, it's rough. But man, I get to watch my boy all over that field. "Tackle by Jensen." "Tackle by Jacob Jensen." "Tackle by number 51, Jacob Jensen." "The ball stopped by Jensen." "Number 51 with the tackle." How many ways can they say that? He scrambles over and under and through. He torpedoes from out of nowhere and takes the runner down. He comes from the other side of the field and stops forward motion. He blocks kicks with his chest. He. Never. Lets. The score. Slow. Him. Down. Seriously. Fun to watch. And you know what? It's contagious. During second half, different numbers, different names with the tackles. You can feel it. The team is watching. The team is getting brave.
When Jacob was in 2nd grade, I got a call from the principal. Jacob had been in a fight. A classmate was being bullied, and Jacob had had enough and launched himself at the bully. I was told it was a full-out rolling on the floor, punching fight. On top of that, I was told that Jacob was lying about his part in the fight. The principal asked me to come in and get my son.
I was full of mixed emotions: proud of Jacob for defending a bullied child, worried about finding him bloodied or bruised, confused about discipline, and embarrassed that he would lie. He was my most honest child.
I arrived to find Jacob with a swollen lip and scratched neck. The principal (who was the most disengaged principal I've ever known at a school) briefed me on what happened, expressed his understanding that Jacob was defending against bullies, but made a very big deal over the lying. "I asked him if he had punched the other boy, and Jacob said no. It was very plain that they were throwing punches. We have witnesses. He's lying, and so he's expelled for the day."
The lying was the thing. I just thanked him and we left.
On the way home (we were walking), I gave Jacob a hug for defending someone who was being bullied, and asked him what happened. He got to the fight part and said, "So we started hitting."
I stopped. I asked, "So, you were punching?"
"No," he said. "Hitting. But he hit me first. I just tackled him away from (the smaller kid)."
I said, "Show me what punching is."
He closed his fist, and acted out hitting himself in the face and head.
I said, "Show me hitting."
He closed his fist and acted out hitting his body all over. Just his body.
I said, "So you were hitting."
"But not punching?"
He shook his head no. "I wasn't punching."
He wasn't lying. His definitions were just different than ours. And he stood by them. And I gave him a big hug. I taught him about the words. We talked about what to do about bullies and friends, and frustration and anger. I wanted to go back into that office and tell the principal my son wasn't a liar. I wanted to tell that principal that I wish somebody would have done for his brother Braeden what Jacob did for that little boy, when Braeden was being bullied. In HIS school, on HIS watch.
But from that point on, I knew I didn't have to worry about Jacob getting picked on, or Jacob worrying about what other people think, or Jacob fearing much of anything. He'll have trials, he'll have obstacles, he'll make mistakes and have heartache like the rest of us. But he's one of my heroes.
He won't sit back and let things fall apart. I can just picture his response to that suggestion.
"Why would I do that?" And then he'd grin.