Seems like everyone is telling you to miss your kid’s next sports event. Less pressure on your kid. It’ll will make it fun. They’ll be excited to tell you about it afterwards. Less stress and running around for you. I know there are lots of parents who seem to be getting it all wrong. Who I am to tell anybody how to parent their kid though I would encourage all parents to follow the pledge from RantsFromMommyland? As for me staying away, all I can say is it’s not going to happen. I won’t. I can’t. I can’t imagine not being there because I absolutely need to be there.
I race bikes. Tour de France-type bikes though as a low-level amateur (Category 3 in USA Cycling parlance which amounts to a pimple on the rear-end of the cycling world.) I’ve been doing it for 20 years and through it I’ve had incredible experiences, met unbelieve people and made lifelong friends. Cycling has been very, very good to me.
If you’re going to race bikes, you need to be able to ride in a pack. You need to be comfortable riding shoulder-to-shoulder with three riders on either side of you, five rows of riders in front and fifty to seventy guys behind you. You need to be comfortable darting in and out of little holes that open up because the most efficient way to the front is through the pack not around it. You need to be comfortable doing all this while hurtling around at 25+ mph on a 2-cm wide strip of rubber with a thin sheet of Lycra™ being your only protection if it all goes horribly wrong. It can be claustrophobic and it can be scary. The sounds and smells of a crash are nauseating, the bitter scent of burning rubber, the loud popping and crunching as carbon and metal hit the ground, the grotesque scraping sound flesh makes when it hits asphalt, and the yelling and screaming from riders who have fallen, are about to or simply can’t see and are hoping to pick out a line around the carnage. But if you’re going to race bikes you need to shove all thought out of your mind and jump in right in the middle.
Nine years ago, I started developing a case of the yips. It starting taking more and more mental energy to sit in the middle of a pack of 110 riders (you may notice a connection between when the yips started and the title of this blog.) It kept getting worse to the point the only two places I felt comfortable were at the sharp end or at the back. Racing became a chore. When I hit rock bottom, I was using coaching baseball as an excuse to not race. So I went to psychologist. I’m pretty sure he had it pegged about five minutes after meeting me. It took me a bit longer. With the birth of my kids, the stakes became infinitely bigger. But maybe not for the obvious reason.
You see, it’s not them I worry about it. It’s me. I’m not worried about how they’ll get on without their old man or how they’ll be provided for or that they’re going to be sad for a while (who doesn’t want to keep their kids from hurting?) It turns out, I’m the one I’m worried about because I don’t want to miss out. I don’t want to miss out on watching them grow and watching them experience life. I don’t want to miss out because I need to know what happens to them and part of knowing is being there to see it unfold. I need to see what choices they make and where it leads them. I need to know where all this goes, this being whatever they choose to do or play or not play, and where it ends, and the odds are incredibly stacked at the end, in terms of sports, coming exceptionally soon in the grand scheme of things. I desperately need to know how the next chapter turns out. I know I’m not going to make it to the last page, hopefully this book has a million chapters, but, oh brother, I need to see what happens next year and the year after and the one after and as many more after as I have left. And you want me to skip the next game? Should I miss the next play or recital too? [Expletive-deleted.] No way, no how. Not going to happen. Experiencing all those moments, the good, the bad and the ugly, watching them go through it all and grow and mature, being there to rejoice in their happiness and to help them get off the mat when the inevitable lows come, that’s the reward of being called Dad just as the being there for the moments my players have on the ball field is the reward of being called Coach. So, like it or not, I am here to stay. I want to be there. I need to be there. I need to see their lives happen. All too soon the games are going to stop and being there won’t be an option.
Ever so slowly I’m getting back to my bike and racing. But I won’t hesitate for a second to drop the bike to see the next game. They’re my kids, and I don’t want to miss a thing.