Not even a sporting chance at normal life

June 30, 1998|By Susan Reimer

AT MY HOUSE, we are all sports, all the time. Every sport, every day. 24-7. In season, out of season, every season, all season long.

ESPN's SportsCenter ain't got nothin' on us. We got game. And then we got another game. Sometimes, we got games at the same time but in different places.

I have just two children, but I feel like I am running an East German sports camp. Swimming, sailing, basketball, baseball, soccer. If we aren't playing it, we are in a camp learning to play it better.

I am overwhelmed by the uniforms and equipment these sports require. Most of it is on the floor just inside my front door or in my van. Or waiting to be washed. I feel like I live in a sporting goods store during inventory week.

I have a food processor and a sewing machine that haven't been plugged in since Jimmy Carter was in the White House. I don't even know where they are. But I can put my hands on a set of plastic dayglow cones for soccer drills in two seconds. I can't park a car in the driveway, because a portable (yeah, sure) basketball hoop blocks the entrance.

And how many basketballs does it take to play the game, anyway? One, right? Apparently not. You must need a fresh one for every game. When my husband purchased yet another basketball so my daughter could practice her left-handed dribble, I nodded in consent. Sounded reasonable. It must have been a left-handed basketball.

Try stepping on a golf ball in the middle of the night. Much worse than Legos. It not only hurts, you fall. Gloves? Golf, batting, mitts. We go through more gloves than a proctologist. We have equipment for sports we don't even play -- wrist guards for in-line skating and goggles for skiing and boots for hiking.

We have enough golf clubs to give them out at Halloween. We have a boat under the deck that only gets wet when it rains.

My husband says it isn't a sport unless it requires a special shoe and he must be right because we have all kinds of special shoes. Cleats. High-tops. Boat shoes. And the sports sandals you wear when you are done playing your sport. And every one of these shoes is in the process of being outgrown.

Why do I feel like I'm the equipment manager instead of the mother? Because my kids play sports. Multiple sports, meaning more than one per child. And compound sports, meaning more than one team in the same sport. And consecutive sports, meaning the same sport again and again, even when the calendar says its season should be over. The National Hockey League ain't got nothin' on us.

I'm not sure, but I don't think we are what you would call first-round draft pick material in any of these sports. No scouts are sitting in the bleachers with their eyes fixed on my kids. We do OK, I guess, but I am not counting on a full ride to a Division I school or a palatial new home courtesy of that multimillion-dollar signing bonus.

With my luck, my kids will grow up and blame me for a hectic childhood during which they had no time for reflection. I'm not sure I would argue the point. Kids in front of a television set eating junk food looks real good to a parent about an hour into the third baseball game in three days under a blazing sun.

(A word to coaches: That's why mothers complain that their children aren't getting enough playing time. We're not ambitious. We're bored.)

And do you know what time these sports schedule practice and games? Meal time.

I swear, at the pre-season league meetings, the coaches survey each other:

"So, when does your wife put dinner on the table?"

"Oh, I'm thinking 5: 30 or 6."

"Yeah. Right. Mine, too. Let's schedule practice for 5: 30. No way any working mother can get a meal into the kids before then."

"And breakfast. Does your wife try to start the day with something substantial, something that takes a little time? Especially on weekends? You know, kinda making up for no dinner the night before?"

"Oh, yeah. Absolutely, that's my wife."

"Good. OK. Well, let's get these swim meets rolling at about 7: 30. That eliminates anything decent to eat. And we can drag these meets on until lunch time. That way, it's doughnuts for breakfast pool-side and lukewarm pizza and soda for lunch."

"Great. Perfect. That takes care of all three meals, I think."

"OK gentlemen. That about does it. Remember, we're going for 100 percent on uniform alterations this season. We want every child complaining that it doesn't fit.

"We'll meet again later in the season and try to schedule the playoffs and championship games so they conflict with major holidays and other important family obligations.

"And by the way, guys. One last thing. Make sure you limit your roster size so that if just one kid is missing, you'll have to forfeit."

Pub Date: 6/30/98

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