The Unwilling Volleyball Spectator

It is the lot of the youngest child to spend hours at events and activities that he/she has no investment in. My son — our youngest child — has logged in HOURS at the following events:

  • chorus concerts
  • piano recitals
  • band concerts
  • Daisy, Brownie, Girl Scout bridging cermonies
  • soccer, t-ball, basketball, and volleyball matches
  • swim meets
  • poetry readings
  • plays and musicals
  • school awards ceremonies

My son was a mere 1-month-old infant when he was taken to his sisters’ t-ball game. I recall covering his stroller in a blanket to make sure he did not get any dirt blown in his face or experience any direct sunlight. I have walked him miles along corridors and hallways in his stroller while his sisters were in classes and activities. As a toddler I could distract him with snacks in a way that did not work when he was a preschooler. At 4, he wanted to do the activity. Woe betide ANYONE who stopped him from coloring the outside of the shoebox for the Brownie Christmas gift boxes. He was a preschooler on a mission to crayon a shoe box, STAT.

He’s now a 1st grader with his own interests. He has tried his hand at soccer, music, t-ball, basketball, and now lacrosse. In the fall, we will have a tackle footballer in our midst.

My son is old enough to know when the activity is about him and when it is not. I try when I can to avoid taking him to the girls events. Some events I do take him to like band concerts as I think that the event is cultural and enriching. All-day volleyball tournaments are not a fit for him. I send my husband with the girls or I take whichever daughter has a tournament. He does not need to spend time watching match after match.

In a turn of the tables, I do make sure that his sisters come to his lacrosse games, preschool graduation, and soccer games. It’s only fair for them to support him the way he has cheered them on.

This weekend was an exercise in restraint for him. His sisters and dad planned a roadtrip to the Happy Volley Tournament at Penn State. I booked a hotel room for my son and I. I wasn’t sure if I would go or not. I wanted to leave my options open. I wanted to be able to cheer on each of my daughter’s during their matches. My husband helps coach both girls, so I knew he would be tied up in one gym while one of the girls played in another gym. I was torn. I wanted to go to the 3-day tournament soooo badly, but I knew that 3 days of volleyball is hard for an adult, but torture for a kid.

My son is active…very active. He needs to run and play. Sitting in a gym for hours is not a good move for him. I don’t have anywhere to leave him at home. 3 days is too long for both sets of grandparents. With no solution in sight, I decided on a compromise…my son and I would go for 2 days not 3. I would have him watch 1 match per day per daughter — so two matches per day. I would plan activities for the down time between matches. Note: My idea for a trip to BABW was a bust as there are no BABWs within 50 miles of State College, PA. The movie theater was a good plan, but my son if given the choice prefers to see a movie at the movie theater with the whole family. The hit of the trip? I let my son play catch with the Nerf football in the hotel hallway. Who knew that he would love throwing that ball around so much!?

I’m writing this post on the second night at the hotel. We arrived late last night. Today after a frazzled start we watched the tween’s match, then the teen’s match with lunch in between. My son found a friend to play with which meant we saw about 1/2 of another match …a bonus for me! How crazy is it to meet a boy from your son’s lacrosse team hundreds of miles from home?

After the bonus match it was back to the hotel for a quick shower for me and a quick TV fix for him before heading out to the tween’s team dinner. Even with the compromises it, the weekend was punishing. Would I do it again? I’ll make that decision next year. Will I bring my son again? I’m not sure. With each passing year, it is harder and harder to drag him to events that are not his own.

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