The back to school, crazy busy time of year is here again. I'm off to pick up the middle school enrollment packet this morning. (Barf. Middle school. I have a kid in middle school. That means I'm old, doesn't it? Don't answer that.) While I'm not actually in any big hurry to send my kids back to school, I do love the fall sports. And they start tomorrow.
I have filled out a staggering number of forms. I've purchased the necessary equipment. I've sent team emails. I'm ready to go.
It's funny what youth sports turn parents into. You can be in mid conversation with other moms at a game. A completely calm, normal conversation. And it's commonplace for at least one mother to start screaming, "Don't just stand there! Run for the ball!" "Ref!!! What game are you watching?!?!?!" or my personal favorite, "TOUCHDOWN!!!! WOOOOOOOOOOOOHHHHH!!!!" Then she'll step right back into the conversation without skipping a beat. These are my people. The football/volleyball/soccer/baseball/hockey parents of the world. It's good, if not loud, company.
We understand each other. We cheer the loudest. We wear matching team shirts. We paint our faces. We bring snacks. We always bring snacks. Our cars are loaded with equipment, coolers, smelly sneakers, and those astonishingly comfortable sports chairs. (I have managed to shove all this, and an outdoor propane heater for those chilly night games, in the trunk of my tiny clown car. It's like Tetris in real life.)
Even though we love it, we have been known to complain about different sports programs for kids. Either they are too competitive, or not competitive enough. Either the coaches are too strict on the kids, or they're not strict enough (I usually fall in with the latter. In my head, football practice should be run something like a military boot camp. R Lee Ermey should be shouting cadence as the boys run drills.) But all that is white noise. The only important detail is seeing your kid's smiling face when he/she makes a big play and looks out to find you in the crowd. I know, I'm a sucker. but it gets me every time. (I can answer definitively: Yes, there is crying in baseball. But it's usually just some proud mother in the bleachers.)
There are those few individuals who give all sports parents a bad name. Those parents or coaches who punch a ref...or a coach...or a kid...and end up on CNN. Those people are not sports parents. They are assholes. And, not because youth sports made them that way. They were born like that. They're likely the same people that cut you off on the freeway, and don't hold doors for old ladies. The people that I've met through our 7 years of nonstop kid leagues are some of the most caring, involved parents I could ever hope to know. And I love the time I share with them.
I cannot wait to get this season started. As a coach, a spectator, and as a tired, overworked parent who kind of needs a break. Tomorrow afternoon, we will run from volleyball practice to football practice with time for a little snack in between. It gives me a valid excuse to spend a couple hours with my best friends drinking coffee and gossiping (not that we gossip). Also, the busy afternoon will leave me with very tired children. Which will provide me with a peaceful evening, where the kids can't wait to crawl into bed. I haven't had an evening like that since last season.
Thank you organized youth sports.