Monday, July 5, 2010

A Great Day For Sitting In The Rain

Two parents sit beneath the overhang of the school. A mother sits next to me each of us in warm jackets sitting beneath large umbrellas. The blanket is tucked around my cold legs. Yes, it is late June in Oregon, but unlike most of the country, it is cold.

When my children were young, I never missed a practice or a game. Even now, I will not miss one of my son or daughter-in-laws shows. Softball games, soccer games, gymnastics, dance recitals, singing competitions, band concerts, class programs, plays, special school events, I didn't miss a one of them. Again, the scene is replayed with me sitting front and center for my grandchildren.

Fortunately, I was a stay-at-home mom. My daughter often complains that she can't get everything done and is running constantly with the girls. If only she knew how quickly this would all be in the past. Since the divorce, I have been trying to be the wheels that get the girls from one place to another. Sometimes I sacrifice my own plans and desires to be there for these children. It is what I should do and what I want to do. All I ask and gratefully receive is respect for my time and the times I say "no".

As I sit with the rain pelting the umbrella and my feet getting colder by the minute, I wonder where the parents of the other four girls are hiding. Two parents are assistant coaching so they are excused, but aren't there grandparents and spouses who could brace against the weather? Where are these people who should be showing their children an example to follow and their grandchildren that not even weather will ban them from supporting their efforts.

Many times I have gone to events where parents drop their children off at the location then drive away. Still on other occasions entire families including everyone but the dog shows up. I find the latter happening more with those from other countries.

My parents were not supportive. I was young when I first noticed and remember every event vividly. When I worked in the theatre at the high school during the 80's, even the toughest students watched for parents and other family to arrive at their shows. When family didn't come to see their student, hearts fell and often so did the tears.

Children always look to see if anyone cares enough to support them rain or shine, commitment or choice. We adults tend to be selectively stupid. When a parent says that they don't have money for this or that, the child knows the difference watching the parent spends on their own desires. When a parents says that they won't make it to an event, the child notices when they make time for their friends or own entertainment.

Why do we choose to be so naive in thinking that children are oblivious? They aren't. My friend told me the story of when she was a child. Her sister was given a doll cradle carved by her father. Later when this child came along time her dad was busy with other things so cradle was lacking. Even as an adult it bothers her. She cried for in her mind he didn't care as much for her.

My son scanned the audience looking for his father. Would he show up? Would he care enough? Sometimes he did and other he didn't. Even now my son still looks. We never outgrow that need for recognition, for that extra effort, for that knowledge that we come first.

"She's not here," cried the young actress. "I knew she wouldn't come. She's never seen me in anything. She has no idea how good I am."

I wiped the tears and tried desperately to give this girl the confidence she needed, but the damage had been done. Her mother cared enough about doing her thing but not enough about her daughter. The experience made my resolve even stronger. I will always be there for my children for in essence I am truly there for myself. There is no greater joy than in watching your family members in their efforts.

I was in a play as an adult. My parents had come to Oregon to visit bringing along dear friends. At intermission my father and the other man decided to stay in the lobby. At the end of the performance, recognition and congratulations came from audience members....all except from my parents. Not a word regarding the show was mentioned. Yes, I can still hurt as an adult.

Sitting in the rain beneath my umbrella with my nose red and runny, I watched my superstar granddaughter bat the ball, catch a fly and run the bases. It was a great day for sitting in the rain.


  1. I really am not a sports fan, so I've chosen a more moderate path. I'll go to some of the games, but not all of them. I tend to think that sports are over-emphasized in our society, but perhaps that's just how I rationalize not having to sit in the cold and the rain!

  2. I'm with you on 'not a sports fan'. Just making the effort to attend what events we can makes a statement to the grandchild. Last year the other team did not show for a game and the parents played the kids. Most of the parents refused to participate. Not me. I wanted Syd to be proud that I would take my weary bones to the diamond.

    She laughed at my running. She laughed at my screaming every time a ball came my way. She laughed that we played a game against one another. It was a good day.