It was cold yesterday afternoon. A snow-flurrying, wind-blowing, teeth-chattering kind of cold. And I was sitting in a camp chair along the fence at the little league ball park, huddled under a blanket watching Adam’s team go for a second win in the playoffs.
In the parking lot at the top of the hill, most of the other parents were watching from the comfort of their cars, sheltered from the wind and chill. I considered doing the same after a couple of innings, as my nose began to run and my toes grew a bit numb through my lightweight sneakers.
But watching the game separated by distance and a windshield didn’t feel right. I’m not as present that way. My teenage boys may not come running over to me with excitement between innings or at the end of a game like they did when they were in elementary school, but I know they still appreciate me being there to cheer them on. They glance at the sidelines or into the stands to find Mom and Dad. Sometimes they even give a nod or a smile. They can’t do that if I’m way off in the parking lot or just dropping them off and returning a couple hours later.
Not judging the other parents. Only speaking for me here. And for me, it’s important to be at as many games and other activities as I can and to be close enough to see their faces (or at least the number on their uniform) and hear the ball hit their bat or cleat kick the football–even if that means waving bugs or dust away from my face, sweating in the summer sun, huddling under an umbrella, or wrapping up in as many layers as I can find.
These boys of mine will only be at home for a few more years. I want to take advantage of the opportunities I have now to watch them do what they enjoy. To watch them interact with their friends and coaches and youth leaders. To get a glimpse of who they are in the world, not just within the boundaries of our home and family.
My hope is that, because I’ve shown a deep interest in their activities, when they go off to college and enter adulthood, they might be more inclined to share what they’ve been up to. They’ll know I’m interested. They’ll know I want to hear their stories. And maybe they’ll even remember the example we set and be interested in each other’s lives, too, and actively involved in their own kids’ interests one day.