Tuesday, April 19, 2016

When summer sports suck


It’s that time of year when parents get panicky about registration forms and deposits. No, not school — heck, school’s easy to get into. I’m talking about the Seasonal Summer Sessions of Sanity-Sucking Sports.

While the pain of bringing a child into the world does indeed fade — otherwise no one would have more than one — I’m still cringing at the memories of last summer’s T-ball debacle.

Two nights a week, every week, of scarfing down our dinner and jumping into the van to race to the ballfield. Hot, cranky, buggy evenings when the kids wanted to play in the backyard with their friends but I had to herd them over to a dusty diamond. I do not do “outdoors” well at the best of times, but especially not at the end of a long day when I’m sweaty, frazzled (with frizzled hair) and swatting at the bugs.

My husband’s work schedule meant he usually couldn’t make it, and I’d be running back and forth between the playground — trailing after our three-year-old — and the field to catch a glimpse of my lil’ slugger whacking the tee — not connecting with the ball at all.

Although I was happy at the end of each practice, the timing could not have been worse for the kids. They would race over to the splash pad and kick off their sneakers at the exact moment the water is shut off for the evening. Sorry, kids. Now let Mommy crab at you for strewing your socks across the field and jam your sweaty little feet back into your shoes. The minivan will be stiflingly hot, we already drank all of the water and, no, we are not having freezies when we get home because MOMMY REALLY NEEDS TO GET YOU TO BED.

So it’s no surprise, really, that T-ball registration came and went without the Clarke family. No, thank you. No more T-ball -- ever, possibly.

But then I had to consider soccer registration. We skipped the main league last summer so we could try a new family-run version that was far more casual. One night a week for only six weeks and everyone plays together in a totally non-competitive environment? Yes, please!

But this year, it seems, just about all of our friends would be spending many evenings at the soccer pitches as part of the main league. I considered it for half a second until I realized our almost-six-year-old would need to play two nights a week AND our almost-four-year-old would either play on a different night or on the same night, at the same time, but potentially at a completely different field ... in the next town over. The idea of hauling both kids to soccer three nights a week -- or somehow getting them to two different fields on the same night -- was enough made me shudder.

Many of my friends are going to do exactly that -- but I’m just not that parent, I admit it. I don’t like the competitive nature of these leagues, but mostly I just find them a huge pain. Our kids love to play and run around outside, but nobody in our family was pleased with the twice-a-week trek to T-ball -- not even the kid who got to play in the dirt.

We’re not saying no to summer sports altogether. We’ll happily join the family-run once-a-week soccer get-together if it happens again, and the kids will do a session of swimming lessons (eight mornings in a row = way easier than eight weeks of weekly lessons).

But the big leagues with their multiple-nights-a-week commitments and jamborees? Nope, not for us -- not this summer, at least. I’m dreaming of BBQs where we don’t have to rush, throwing stones into the water behind our favourite ice cream place, and evenings hanging out in the backyard with the neighbours.

There isn’t a participation medal in the world that’s worth messing that up.

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