#10 No Instant Replay From the Stands
“You are missing this, and it will be gone before you know what happened,” I thought to myself. As I ascended the steps up to my local gym, I paused to watch the basketball games being played on the bottom courts. It didn’t take long to realize that very few parents were paying attention to the games at all. Small children scurried down the floor, playing their little hearts out…and no one seemed to notice. A few parents were sitting at small tables working on their laptops, and others were in the stands absentmindedly texting and scrolling on their phones. While you could make the argument that they were multitasking, the truth is that there is nothing that can replace that moment when a proud child’s eyes lock with those of his parents after making a basket. These distracted parents didn’t seem to realize what was happening under their very noses.
I should first confess that I am a recovering Sports Mom. Raising three boys, the “changing of the seasons” meant winter basketball fading into spring track and baseball, fading into fall soccer and cross country. For many years our calendars were filled with sporting events. Those of you who have experienced this will understand exactly what I mean. The other sports parents become your “peeps” – you trade recipes, remedies for your children’s inevitable injuries, and dentists’ names. For that moment in time, all of you are thrust together for hours on end as you watch and cheer for your children. Your fellow “parents in the stands” become your friendly neighbors that you see week after week; year after year.
There is nothing like the exhilaration of watching your child cross the finish line ahead of the rest or hit a game-winning homerun. The excitement that comes with realizing that they made the varsity team, or were chosen to play on a traveling team. Having a child involved in sports can be a rush of adrenaline like no other; it is so easy to get caught up in the moment.
On the other hand, it can also cause a great deal of frustration. For example, having your child spend hours and hours of practice time only to sit the bench. Or trying out for a team only to find that his name is not on the final roster. There can be moments of heartache when a coach makes a decision that has a negative impact on your child. There can be disappointment when your child sustains an injury that puts an end to his season or athletic career.
Some seasons of sports also offered a few embarrassments to myself. My face still flushes when I remember the gerbil eating a hole in the brand new baseball jersey. Or the time that those little disappointed faces looked up at me waiting for the snacks and drinks that I was to have brought to the game – and forgot at home (or on the shelves of the grocery store). Occasionally even the coach waiting after practice for me to show up because I had been across the county dropping off a different son at a different practice.
Recently a friend posted a picture to her Facebook page, reminding me that those years were some of the best memories of our sons’ childhoods. It was a photo of her son crouched down behind home plate in a catcher’s stance. He was playing for the same school that my son had once played for, standing in the exact spot my son used to. For a moment I was nostalgic, and a bit sad. I miss those days. Conveniently I have forgotten all about how difficult it was to hold a job, make dinner, keep up with laundry, and run all over the place for sporting events. How easy it was to fall asleep in the car while waiting for one of the boys to come out after practice. For now, all I can remember is the pride I felt for each of them as they always tried their best. How happy I was that they learned teamwork, and how to be “good sports.”
As I head on up the stairs to get some exercise of my own, I can’t help but want to run back down and emphatically encourage those parents not to miss one minute of this time. Not to miss one basket, one final buzzer. Because from where I sit, those years will be gone in the blink of an eye.