My decade older friends warned me that track was the worst parental spectator sport of the bunch. You sit in the stands for eight-plus hours in sometimes extreme elements (first you’re cold, then you’re hot) to watch one, two, or three 60 seconds to maybe five minutes of your kid actually doing something. Being the physical fitness buff and kid activity pusher I am, the track horror stories did little to deter me from having our 6th grader Ian join the school track team.
Like a newbie track parent, I trucked from the closest parking spot, two football fields away with two folding pocket chairs slung on our shoulders, along with a cloth cooler with lunches for five, a bag with a blanket, my hat, and another bag filled with materials to keep me busy for six to eight hours.
Repeatedly Ian and I tripped over the unnecessary chairs laying next to us on our way to the hard, uncomfortable bleachers. As my rear ached I lusted at the other parents several rows ahead who brought the right kind of bleacher stadium seats. Although I brought everything but the kitchen sink, I left the feminine hygiene products I actually needed later in the day in the car. Joe met us later, leaving the sunscreen he just purchased in the other vehicle. The back of Ian’s neck and his face looked like a lobster by the end of the day, only to be soothed by aloe vera gel.
While Ian’s skin was roasting, he struggled to hear with his cochlear implants when he was cued over the loudspeaker amidst the Kansas wind and poor hearing environment. Without me realizing it, Ian slipped away to do the long jump. Then he missed his next event, the 100-yard dash, partially because of delays with the long jump and partially because he was not where he should be at the right time. The general chaos of the first meet and us not having a clue what we were supposed to be doing exhausted me. I operated on high alert trying to figure out what was going on to assist Ian to get where he needed to be. I did not want Ian to let down his teammates by not being where he needed to be for his final event, the 800-meter relay.
Off-and-on Ian acted awkward and was isolating from his peers, probably because he couldn’t hear well. I was trying to direct traffic, barking orders to Ian and my husband so the rest of the track meet went better than the start.
Six hours later I was zero for three at seeing any of Ian’s events and exhausted.
But I would do it all again in a heartbeat. The day was far from perfect, and many things went wrong. But we were all together sharing each other’s world.
The Catholic Women’s Guide to Healthy Relationship Tip: Laugh at the mistakes you make when you do something the first time, while enjoying doing things together.