EDMOND — The boys, strapping and athletic and swinging the world by the tail, can't even play a little football until they look up at the 50-yard line seats, halfway up, and spy mom.
Why, the youngest won't even take the field until he kisses his mother.
They are mama's boys and proud of it.
"She's a great woman," said Gary, the oldest boy of the six kids, ranging down in age from 36 to 14. "She put herself aside, her aspirations, to raise us.
"When you have a whole lot of kids, there's not a lot of people volunteering to baby-sit. How did she do it? She loved us unconditionally. She chased us around. She supported us in our athletic endeavors. She didn't send us to church, she took us to church. She tried to instill things in us her mom instilled in her."
Juana had help. For going on 40 years she and Lawrence have been soul mates, raising on their 10 acres a family with a simple slogan.
"Take your kids fishing and you won't have to fish for your kids."
And so they've fished and played ball and laughed over chicken burritos around the supper table and talked to the wee hours of the morning about the big game the next night and grown tighter than carpet glue.
"It's a good thing, this family thing," said Lawrence.
"We hope the kids will take the same type of perspective. I hope they understand it's a privilege to be part of a family. We trust we've laid the right foundation."
On this spring night at Hafer Park, the foundation shows no cracks. The whole brood, save Roslin, the oldest who lives in Dallas, is in tow to watch Little League games involving a nephew and a grandson. Every day is a family reunion. Any event is a reason to get together.
"I guess we decided a long time ago, family was going to come to second, after God," said Juana. "We concentrated on allowing our children to be the best they could be. The best way to do that is be with 'em. It's easy for them to be with us now because we were with them."
Juana and Lawrence met while working downtown a lifetime ago and soon became regular lunch partners. Lunch is a daily reservation, at Burger King or Pizza Hut or somewhere. Even when the kids were small, Juana packed them up for the noon routine, because nothing keeps the family apart.
"We're never going to break apart," said the boy going off to college.
Juana and Lawrence are proud that they've never had a child in jail, never had a drug problem, never had a problem bigger than a disappointing ballgame score or a day when the fish wouldn't bite.
All six kids were born in Baptist Hospital, all six were planted in the pews at Greater Mt. Pilgrim Baptist Church and all six are bonded by cords that cannot be broken.
Juana coached their T-ball teams and made sure they had Lunchables at noon and brought snacks to practice when the boys got older and couldn't very well have their mother as coach. Everyone knows you can't kiss your coach.
When Nikia, the baby who's now 14, reached school, Juana became a real-estate broker because she says she was bored. But that's hard to fathom.
Now she runs after grandkids and plans road trips for her boys' games and walks the Earth with the warm fuel of family. Gary and his wife are building a house on those same 10 acres, and even the strapping lads who are in college or almost there are always drawn back to the house ruled by love.
What advice does Juana have for a young woman about to hike the road of familyhood?
"She needs to realize that raising children, that's the most important thing she will ever do," Juana said. "It's a job that should be taken seriously.
"Children are a gift. When I die and go to heaven, God won't care what I did in this world. He'll care about what I did with the gifts he gave me.
"Teach them, take the time, sacrifice. In the end, it'll be well worth it."
And so on this fine Sunday morning, a tip of the hat, please, for the mother of Roslin, Gary, Nikia and three boys you might have read about. The pride of OSU and Millwood High School. Rashaun, D'Juan and Donovan.
Happy Mother's Day to Juana Woods.