Family Ties

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 1, 2001


Adventures in dodging sports The telephone rang late last evening as I was reading to the kids. When my daughter found out it was her soccer coach, she froze in place. Her body stiffened, her face got red and her eyes widened into a panicked stare. She looked like a fugitive learning the police had found her. I didn’t have to ask why she viewed this call with such dread. She was afraid he was going to ask why she hadn’t been at the last few soccer games. The truth is we have had some scheduling conflicts, which is fine with her. She has decided she likes practice a lot, but the games are to be avoided if possible. She quickly discovered something pretty obvious – she is at a grave disadvantage in this first year, since many of the girls have been playing for a while. One teammate is in her sixth season. This is my fault. Unlike an enormous number of parents who decide their kids need to do this, my daughter asked me to sign her up for at least three seasons before it actually happened. I kept missing the date for sign-up. And it’s not like they need us; it is overrun with kids, although I can’t help but wonder how many really want to be there. In the middle of a game on a beautiful day recently, we were between quarters and the coach was talking to his players, He asked, “Which of you would like to sit out this quarter?” The entire team raised their hand. Considerably deflated, he announced with knowing resignation, “Well, some of you have to play!” I tried to restrain my guffaw to a quiet shudder, since I was sitting right under his nose. It reminded me of the time, a few years back, when I was at the home of a friend who makes her kids do everything. On this particular visit her daughter was conspicuously absent. Mom inquired about the young lady’s whereabouts and was told she was in her room praying for rain, because there was a soccer game scheduled for that evening. The Lord must expect a surge in divine kinetic energy emanating for the suburbs of the United States of America every evening. Another friend just told me that they drive around praying for rain every night there is a soccer game. I do hope the Indians doing the rain dance get first dibs. They start so young! A music teacher friend of mine once told me she had received a call from a woman who was looking into guitar lessons. After my friend had given the caller the details of the program, the woman mused aloud, ” I don’t know if we can fit this in. She already has tennis lessons, swim team, art classes, gymnastics and soccer.” My friend suggested it sounded like a pretty full slate of activities. Perhaps she could do the music activity later, she offered, and then cautioned the woman that she should try to do the program before the child turned 8. Fearing the girl might be close, my friend inquired, “How old is she?” The caller replied, “Three.” I can’t imagine what that woman’s schedule must be like. When I was a child, no one had ever heard of soccer and gymnastics was only for Olympians. Art classes were free at the local recreation center only walking distance away, and swim team was a daily discipline at the pool two blocks from home. None of it involved mother as chauffeur. There was an occasional camp offered. It, too, was at the local rec center, it was almost free and I looked forward to it each year. Now I realize it was because I had nothing else to do. Come to think of it, the bookmobile, also now extinct most places, was the highlight of my week. If ambling away the day was the norm for suburban kids back then, today’s children live by the calendar. With Mom driving, the family moves from one activity to the next. Despite such a frenetic pace, they’ve never forgotten their prayers. It sure has been raining a lot. MARY ANN FITZMORRIS writes this column regularly for L’Observateur.