Rookie parents

Lisa Ingebrand,

We’re rookies.

It’s obvious that my husband, John, and I need to step-up our game now that both of our daughters, Anna and Ellen, are active in school sports.

Our 8th grader plays tennis.

Our 5th grader plays volleyball.

Two kids. Two sports.

It shouldn’t be that difficult for two parents to follow, right?

Well—for the first time ever—our girls’ schedules collided last week with both kids having a match/game on the same day, at the same time in different cities.

We knew we had to divide and “conquer” (a.k.a. - support each child equally by having one parent present at each game/match). It sounded so simple.

But, when you factor in the logistics of driving home (early) from work and trying to equal out the number of relatives (grandmas, grandpas, aunts, uncles, and friends) who might show up for the girls’ games/matches… it can get ridiculously messy.

Remember, I’m new at this.

m not—and was never—a real athlete. Sure, I played a few sports in high school for fun, was part of a summer softball leauge, and then went on to play intramural volleyball in college, but I was no where close to being any good at any sport. I just enjoyed sports and being with my friends.

Athletics were a fun part of my childhood and youngadult life, and thinking back on all of those years of athletics, I remember one constant: my parents (either one or both of them) sitting on the sidelines or in the bleachers, watching me play.

remember watching for them to either enter the gym or set up their lawn chairs out of the corner of my eye.

I didn’t need them to be there. Actually, I remember once making a big stink about them rearranging their schedules to drive all the way to Red Wing one evening to watch a volleyball match in which I had a very slim chance of playing. I thought they were crazy.

I just didn’t get it. After all, the bus hauled me there and back. All they—as my parents—had to do was pick me up at the school when I called them (from the old-school corded phone for which I had to wait in line to use).

But, they always showed up.

And, now, as a parent of two young athletes, I get it.

If I can possibly get to my daughters’ games/matches, I will be there—even if I have to rearrange my plans.

I will be there because I enjoy watching them play and interact with their teammates. Their wins mean more to me than if I had won the game myself, and watching them lose—while painful—is reassuring. It shows they can handle disappointment.

I also enjoy cheering (much to my children’s displeasure).

Plus, it’s fun to watch those once little people you helped and watched grow step out onto a court and be their amazing selves.

They don’t always win, but they get out there and try.

And, I always catch them looking for me out of the corners of their eyes.

My teenager, who likes to pretend she doesn’t know me, will quickly look away if we happen to make eye contact, but Ellen—my extroverted redhead—always smiles and waves when she spots me in the crowd.

Do I need to be there? No.

But, I will always try to be there. I will wade through the logistics of drive times, balance out work schedules, and rehash dinner plans to make it happen.

Ultimately, John went to Anna’s tennis match, and I attended Ellen’s volleyball game on that first divide-and-conquer day. We both captured photos and videos of our daughters in action and shared them with each other that night when all of us finally got home.

It was fun to hear the reports of what I missed and share tidbits of Ellen’s games, but now we have a new problem.

One parent opted to take a daughter out to eat after her sporting event. The other did not.

And, you know they WILL keep that score.


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