Saturday, January 05, 2013

being there

On the list of stupidest things I've ever done, attending today's Nordic ski meet is at the top. The universe tried to talk me out of it, but I wasn't listening... but, I guess that's not surprising: I have been known to have a stubborn streak every now and again.

I had overslept-- woke up an hour late, with no time for breakfast or the deeply desired Dunkin stop. The meet was taking place at a school with athletic fields that are on three levels of hills-- I've been there before, and knew I'd need my boots to see anything. I couldn't get it on over the ace bandage, but I figured I could take that off and stuff my foot in when I got to the meet. I'm sure you've deduced by now that was some faulty logic.

And so, I put on the one boot and climbed the hills in my walking shoe.

I know. I could have turned around, and my son would have understood why. WB was with his middle school team at their meet at Sugarloaf, so I was the parent available to be there. It was his first high school meet, and I was 50 yards from being able to see him ski. Those of you who are parents will understand why I climbed that hill, stood by the fence and watched him leave the start line and enter the woods; balanced on one foot as the wind almost blew me over; and recognized his gait as he emerged from the woods the last time to swing around the lower field and climb the hill and ski by me towards his finish. I'd be lying if I said I didn't tear up watching him go by, or if I said it was only because my foot was starting to make it's displeasure known. But watching him ski-- seeing the confidence, dedication, and determination as he made his way around the course-- well, that's why I went, and why I stupidly climbed that hill.

I'd told him I'd be there but wouldn't stay long after, so I hoped he trusted in that fact. I cheered for him as he went by, but who knows if they really hear you or not? When I ran (stumbled? hobbled?) cross country in high school, I could only focus on finishing... but I knew, somewhere, at least one of my parents was there. After he finished, I tried to find where the team was, but I couldn't see them, and at that point I knew I was risking damage staying on that snowy hill. (As I was typing this post, in fact, he texted me-- he tried to get to me before I left, but couldn't reach me in time.) So far, he's unaware of the depth of my folly, and part of the reason for this post is so he might have a glimmer of understanding why I pushed the edge of my physical abilities to be there: I'm pretty sure he won't fully understand, though, until his oldest has his or her first high school meet.

Our job as parents is to be their personal cheering squad, following them around through their various events, giving them support. Sometimes it's advice, many times praise, and every so often a kick in the behind. In many ways, it's all about being there, watching them grow and mature and figure out who they're going to be as adults. As I said before, at least one of my parents was at each and every one of our events. I took it for granted as a kid that everyone had the same experience, but I know now that was never a safe assumption. If it is all possible, one of us will be at each of our kids events, too-- and if it's not, we'll line up someone else. Gramma (and Uncle Uncle) played that role the night of my surgery when Cheer Chick did her Christmas routine at their game. It matters to kids that someone is there watching them. It matters a lot.

Being there was worth the discomfort. I'm proud of you, buddy. Hope you had a good first meet.

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