In New England most schools don’t begin before Labor Day. It makes for a long, long summer– if you don’t have sporty kids. Those with more coordinated teens are racing them to tryouts (some for spring sports, wtf) or pre-season practices. It was a common conversation thread among the parents I chatted up while watching my own boys play tennis this summer: how sports interrupt everything from family dinners to spring break vacations. And because I’m on an actual sideline watching my kids do sports (this is rare for me), moms who don’t know me well assume I have all of these logistical difficulties, too.
A typical conversation:
“Your boys play squash? Did you know my son recently transferred to Squash University to play Division 1 squash with squash squash squash people?”
“That is great! Love the sport. Love any sport that doesn’t involve a windy sideline or freezing rink. My boys have been playing at a winter clinic since they were little, but we don’t do a lot of matches.”
“Oh, you’ll be right there soon. (knowing nod) They’ll only want to squash with squash squash squash this Club, that Club blah blah blah. You’ll be in your car all of the time. It’s all coming soon. (knowing nod)”
“No. Not my kids. Teddy got beat handily by an 8 year old girl at his last match. My boys play squash, but they’ll never be good at it.”
“How can you say that about your own children?!? I bet they’re great!”
“No. Really. Brodie forfeited his first match because he ran into the wall. They’ll never play at any sort of brag-able level. How do we end this conversation?”
I never say the last line. But I think it. Maybe I should just nod appreciatively and pretend to memory bank all of their sage advice about coaches and clubs and teams and other nonsense. But I don’t. My boys play passable tennis and kind of terrible squash and enjoy basketball in the backyard. And that’s it. I sleep in on Saturdays and there are no muddy cleats or stinky gear in my pristine car. But it excludes me from a very common conversation among parents: how to get multiple children to multiple sports with the added worry over meals and homework and family life. And if you’re a mom who hates Soul Cycle and would never do Barry’s Boot Camp, really, are there any talking points left?
I joke. Pretty soon the conversations will pivot to where the kids will apply to high school or (gasp) the possibility of public school. We’ll revisit applications with entire sections devoted to itemizing a childhood of sporting accomplishments– and leave those blank. Have we done our boys a disservice for not forcing them onto teams to be a middling sort of good at a sport they don’t enjoy? In this world, probably. But when your kid tells you he chose soccer for a fall sport at school “so I can be goalie and just stand there and not run,” well, you see what I’m dealing with here. Acorn and tree and all of that.
Also, I like sleeping in on Saturdays.