Last Saturday was a day essentially built around my daughter. She had a softball game in the morning and then a birthday sleepover party that afternoon / night / next morning. And yes, I am an older father.
A sleepover birthday party? With 10 little girls? Sigh, more on that later.
First, the softball game. My daughter has been a soccer player from the moment she started playing sports. She liked soccer, her brother played soccer before he moved on to lacrosse, and it seemed ordained. And for a few years it was. But then her brother got a new girlfriend (interesting how girlfriends change the dynamics of so many things isn’t it?) and the girlfriend (from now on known as GF) plays softball. GF plays on a team in Orange County, likes it and is good at it. And so now daughter wants to try it.
Trying out new sports is a good thing; kids can find a favorite, see what they’re best at, and at that age, why not? The only downside is new equipment. Lots of new equipment, and as you know, sports equipment is not cheap. But you’re the parent so you look in your little child’s eyes, grit your teeth, smile, and hand over the credit card.
And that’s how it was with us. GF donated a few old things to daughter to get her started to see if she really wanted to go forward. Daughter did. And that meant a trip to the sporting goods store. Ah, the sporting goods store. A place of dreams, vigor or the wish for vigor, dynamic youth, and a cash register that sucks every wallet dry the minute you enter the store.
And then there was practice. Her team holds practice twice weekly which means girls and coaches practicing and parents watching (texting), taking photos (looking at YouTube videos), yelling encouragement (talking on the phone) and generally being supportive (collecting money for uniforms, deciding on where to hold parties, and who is bringing snacks to the game).
Practices are interesting. You get to see how good the coaches are and how bad some of the parents are. Not bad in a criminal sense, just bad in a sense that they won’t quit giving instructions to their kid while the coach is trying to do what coaches do. Knock it of mom and dad (and you know who you are).
During the practices I noticed that the girls were slowly coalescing in to team. Oh, not a good one yet, but one that had potential. You have to love that word. Potential gives you so much hope while still allowing for a less-than-stellar present. Yep, our girls had potential – lots of potential. And we parents were going to do everything we could to help that along including deciding on snack rotation. We’re nothing if not involved.
Finally, a game. the “Big Day” arrived. Game day was bright and sunny and the girls had confidence. The game started fairly evenly but soon one of our girls scored a run and we never looked back. Yeah, yeah, yeah the other team had a score or two, but honestly, who cares? The main thing is we won. Sorry, that’s not the main thing. The main, main thing is dear daughter stepped up to the plate, took her stance and nailed a ball straight down the field. Two girls scored from her hit and after a few more girls had hits, my daughter ran to home and scored. She had a smile on her that lasted for days.
And now a birthday party
If a hit and a win at softball wasn’t enough, there was also her birthday party. Excuse me, birthday party / sleepo-ver. What is a birthday party / sleepover? Short answer is it’s just one long birthday party that ends up with 10 very tired girls on a sugar high. The full answer is one (very) long birthday party that ends up with 10 very (very, very) tired girls on a sugar high with a frazzled dog, a big brother who had enough of helping (he did a great job but one can only ask so much of someone), and parents who wanted to run away from home.
We probably would have run away except we’ve seen enough CSI’s and other shows to know that sooner or later we’d be found and they would drag us, kicking and screaming, to be given back to kids plotting revenge. Who needs that?
It was a great birthday party with all the important things such as pizza, an ice cream birthday cake, presents, candy, movies-on-demand, and all the usual stuff. The girls slept in one large pile in the family room. At midnight with the giggles, the dog, the sugar in the tummies, and everything else, they would not go to sleep. Well duh. Finally we did the only thing we could do. Mom went downstairs, sat on a coffee table in the middle of them and played guard dog. That woman is a high school teacher – she could stop a train when she glares at you. It worked and slowly they fell asleep.
The next morning everyone looked rough to say the least. The girls were dragging, the parents were pale and shaky, the dog refused to get up, and big brother would have slept for three days solid except he had a training exercise to get to.
But the idea of chocolate chip pancakes soon had the girls scrambling in the kitchen. Quick, what do you get with girls and pancake batter? Enough smoke to set off the fire alarm. Which it did, twice. When I told the person who called to check on the alarm that it was just girls and pancakes she burst out laughing. The smell of it had me gag-ging and the dog ran outside. He’s the smart one apparently.
But they had fun and that was one weekend my daughter will remember forever. Score one for the positive side of parenting.
Another great example of how easy it can be for caring, involved parents to provide life-long cherished memories for their children! And, at least for me, the more effort I put into throwing birthday parties for my boys, the easier it was to get away with ignoring my own birthdays.