Spring sports can be tough on parentsby Peter Smith, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — Essayist Peter Smith has some thoughts on the erratic weather this spring and its impact on parenting.
Some people say the climate is changing. That the weather is becoming more erratic. Others say, "Naaah. There's nothing to it. Relax. Everything's going to be fine."
I wish the "nothing to it" crowd could have joined our little gaggle of parents at the junior high tennis match after school the other day. There we were, in May, and there was the wind blowing at a steady, very-early-March-like twenty miles an hour. The temperature was in the low fifties. It was raining off and on too-the kind of weather that drives the last ducks down out of Canada in late October-not conducive to a genteel afternoon of tennis in May. No. Not conducive to tennis at all.
We parents huddled there, hands in pockets, collars up, backs to the wind and the rain, struggling to stay warm and mask our misery, trying to look both interested and encouraging for the kids. And there is no junior high sport where it's harder for parents to stay interested or find things to be encouraging about. Even on balmy days.
Whenever a kid tossed a ball into the air to serve, the wind took it. The wind carried shots off line, too. The wind served as an ersatz ball boy, rolling any unsecured ball down the courts through puddles to huddle with all the other windblown balls -- like parents now that I think about it -- against the fence at the far end.
Even the young athletes themselves seemed cold and ambivalent. They kept one hand in their pockets as they returned serves, and lost track of the score even more often than usual, which is often. They're at an especially distracted age. When they're not hungry, they're hormonal.
The wind blew. The rain fell. Teeth chattered. Tennis balls scudded the length of the court. Not since our last trip through early spring tee-ball had life as a parent and sports fan been this chilly and tedious.
All this in May. The prelude to summer. A month when we ought to be running barefoot through warm spring meadows.
I don't know about you, but I've got Global Change up over "Nothing To It" 40-love.
- Morning Edition, 05/11/2010, 7:50 a.m.
Peter Smith lives in Hopkins, Minn.