Have you been to Palmdale? From where I live, there’s one way in and one way out. Miss T and I were there for another cold day of soccer last Sunday. Unlike Bun Bun and her tournament elsewhere, we were not rained out, at least not at 8am. Bundled in hats and gloves, the skies above were clear and sunglasses were necessary. Up a little before six to make coffee and get donuts, neither of us was complaining. We love soccer even if it eats up entire weekends. Somehow, those nagging projects at home will get done, though they may have to wait until the girls are off at college. How important is an organized linen closet anyway? I should just be grateful to have one.
I’d spent all day Saturday indoors at a gym – a velodrome, actually – watching Goldie play volleyball. They’re a sporty bunch, my daughters. Arriving in Palmdale Sunday morning, I related to the other parents how I prefer being a spectator on the pitch more than the court, for several reasons. I like fresh air. Six hours in a gym starts to feel stale, despite a fine bunch of adults to hang out with. Unlike watching from the sidelines and yelling encouragement or praise to a bunch of kids running around kicking a ball, in volleyball we’re generally too far away for the players to hear us, or care. We’re left looking like the dad several rows away, talking to himself as if afflicted with Tourette’s, grumbling and apoplectic at his inability to affect his child’s play on any level. At the soccer field, we absolutely believe we’re making a difference in the game when we yell, “Go Susie, go, GO! Go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go!” or “Offsides!” (we all think we’re refs) or my favorite “Take the shot!” (I hate it when they don’t take the shot.) In Carson on Saturday at the Home Depot Center (attempting to focus, and not vomit, while several men rode state-of-the-art bikes around the track in between us and our daughters down on the court), shouting “Spike it!” is not only silly, it’s outdated. The word ‘spike’ went out, I guess, when they started awarding points on every possession. And the libero? We didn’t have that position back in my day.
Through some unfortunate algorithm, Miss T’s team advanced after the 8am game on Sunday to play at 1pm and 3:30. We hauled ourselves off to a restaurant that served fifty beers on tap, to get warm and satiated with the rest of the team, telling stories of how we met our spouses (the parents, not the girls, and no one was drinking beer) and devising a way to motivate our children into playing harder, with more purpose, so that we could leave Palmdale feeling like the day was worthy.
The second game was unfortunate. The opposing team’s players had twenty pounds and five inches on each of our girls and we lost, just as the rain began. Back in our cars to get warm and dry and while away an hour before we played for third place, I was starting to feel silly watching the downpour out the window. Under an umbrella waiting for Miss T outside the porta-potty before the game, the coach (a lovely man) said he wished he had medals to give to the grown-ups for being such good parents. “Or bad,” I said to him because I couldn’t help but think that under these conditions, the distinction between enthusiastic support and child abuse was a fine line.
Remember Dorothy trying to get back to her house and her family as the tornado blew in? Add to that frozen rain. When the very last of our umbrellas snapped and fell victim to the wind, when we could no longer get little hands warm because nothing was dry in which to wrap them, when tears fell and teeth chattered and the pediatrician among us was preparing to treat hypothermia, the game was called just after halftime. We ran to our cars with a sense of chaos and nary a goodbye, as if the Hunger Games had started and the last one out was a goner.
On the drive back home at 50mph in the torrential rain, after changing into dry clothes and blasting the heat, pouring myself a cup of joe and feeling as if we survived something, it wasn’t difficult to appreciate Goldie and the sport she chose to pursue. We’re heading into a three-day volleyball tournament in Anaheim this weekend and even if it snows (not likely), I’m not likely to wear a plastic poncho into the gym, nor carry an extra pair of mittens. If she cries, it won’t be because she can’t feel her toes. I can bring the newspaper to read in between matches without risk of it blowing away and if I need fresh air, stepping outside for a bit will work where I can shout “Go, go, go, go, go, go, go!” if so inclined. I love volleyball! Side out! Side out!
It’s spring break here and we’re still in our pajamas, watching cooking shows and eating chocolate bars we’re supposed to sell for Bun Bun’s soccer team. Maybe I should go for a run. Maybe I should end this post.