If this is Saturday, it's Lacrosse Day, Soccer Day and . . .

SATURDAY'S HERO

April 29, 1995|By ROB KASPER

I once dreamed about being a baseball player, one of "The Boys of Summer." Now I am a parent of spring.

From now until school lets out, my life is an unending procession of games, school plays, recitals, concerts and other "important" events my kids will attend.

My primary duties during this time are the same as those of many other parents in similar straits. Namely, to chauffeur kids great distances. To feed them endless bowls of cereal and morsels of fast food. And, most important of all, to write down every new obligation on the kitchen calendar.

Yesterday, for example, I was feeling in control of the home front as I sent the kids off to school. The younger one was carrying a virtually complete pirate outfit that he needed for the fourth-grade play. True, his earring and footwear needed a little work. His boots were too small and he claimed to be philosophically opposed to earwear.

But as I checked items off my pirate-garb list, I felt I was finally getting a grip on the chaos that is spring.

It was a short-lived feeling. No sooner had the kid and his big brother gone out the front door than an alarm sounded. Not only was yesterday the carry-the-pirate-outfit-to-school day, it was also the sing-around-the-Maypole day. That meant our crooning kid should have gone to school wearing a shirt and tie. A note had been sent home telling us this. Quickly, an adult carrying a shirt and tie was dispatched to the Maypole site.

Next I realized I had lost the sheets of directions telling us how to locate the baseball field where one of the kids is scheduled to play a game this weekend. I was pretty sure I had lost the sheets during Thursday night's baseball game. That was not all I was missing at that game. I was missing a player: my kid. The last time I had seen him, he and his crooning classmates were headed south to sing at a school in Washington.

Eventually I caught up with the kid, and the sheets of directions. I proceeded to spend several hours phoning busy people at their offices to discuss that vital adult issue, car-pooling the kids.

Wise men tell me this happens every spring. I ask, why does it have to happen all on the same day? Earlier this spring, I snatched a kid out of piano practice so he could get to baseball practice. Nice "Pachelbel," kid, I said. "Now work on the fastball."

Our household is currently embroiled in the great singing-athlete quandary. The question is: Can a kid both play lacrosse and croon with the chorus on the same day? Come to think of it, there might also be a baseball game, and a guitar practice scheduled for that day as well. We'll see who drops from exhaustion, the kids or the parents.

I take comfort in knowing that other households are coping with similar spring schedules. Last Monday evening, at the start of a kids' baseball game, I was anxiously counting heads. It was two minutes before game time and we were short several players. All of a sudden, cars pulled up, kids came running, and we had a baseball team. A dad told me later that his kid had been practicing lacrosse across the street and somehow the starting time of the baseball game had slipped past them, even though it had been entered on the family's calendar. I understood. Some dates on our kitchen calendar are so booked they look like the reservation list at Tio Pepe's on a Saturday night.

Another dad I know had two sons playing in separate baseball games on adjoining fields. Rather than sitting and watching one game and then the other, he decided to jog around both fields, watching the games as he ran.

Usually when you have multiple kids appearing in multiple events, you try to do the old parental shuffle. You show up at the event that Child No. 1 is performing in. You smile. You wave. You say, in words or gestures, "Hi! I'm here." Then you promptly slink away to the event that Child No. 2 is performing in, and repeat the routine.

The shuffle rarely satisfies the kids. When I arrive late at one of my kids' performance sites, for instance, I am never greeted with, "Nice to see you, Father." More often, the greeting I hear is, "You missed it," with "it" being the crowning accomplishment of the kid's career.

When I hear this, I smile tightly and carry on. Parents of springtime performers are a resilient lot. We know there will always be a tomorrow. And that more than likely, tomorrow will have two games -- one home, one away.

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