Archive for Thursday, November 19, 2009

Trying to keep up

November 19, 2009

There’s an old saying that you need to walk a mile in another person’s shoes to begin to understand the problems he or she faces. We had that opportunity over the Halloween weekend when we were in charge of our three grandsons for several days. I was left with one question for young parents: How do you do it?

Jean and I had a great time keeping up with Stan, Sam and Shane. We enjoy being part of their lives and I personally love attending their sporting events. I came out of the experience knowing that today’s myriad activities and opportunities for kids makes life a lot more hectic than what we faced as parents a few decades ago.

In those days, there were fewer activities and opportunities for kids. Now, parents have to make sure kids keep up with homework, attend overlapping sports practices and schedule the weekend around games and parties while trying to find some family time.

First, I learned that schedules are a moving target. Our original plan was for Sam and Shane to be in Bonner Springs on Friday night while teenager Stan would remain in Lawrence with a friend to attend a party. It rained on Thursday when both Sam and Shane had football practice, which was cancelled. Practice was re-set for Friday and lasted until after 7 p.m. This meant the trip to Bonner was off. Jean went to Lawrence to stay with the boys and I came over on Saturday to get them to their football games on time.

The next glitch came Saturday during Sam’s game. His team jumped off to a good start and Sam scored two touchdowns in the opening six minutes. That was when disaster struck.

Sam went down with what was diagnosed as a high ankle sprain. This was a scary challenge since it has been a long time since I’ve dealt with football injuries. His ankle was wrapped, however, his football season was over. That’s a tough blow for an 11-year-old who eats, sleeps and breathes football. His team lost, too, so we didn’t have to face arguments concerning his playing on Sunday.

Since it was Halloween and no self-respecting grade-schooler would miss trick-or-treating, arrangements had been made for the boys to spend the night with friends so Jean was busy making sure they had everything including overnight bags and costumes while I was in charge of the football activities. Jean had to deal with three pages of instructions and a variety of addresses and phone numbers. In addition, there was homework including a major poster, which was on the weekend agenda.

Sunday was a bright, beautiful day and at 10 a.m. I had Shane at the new Free State High School stadium for the second and third-grade championship game. Things were going well, when my cell phone rang and the next problem surfaced. I had left my truck in Lawrence the night before and had used it to go to the game. Jean had a simple question: “Do you have both sets of keys?” Well, my first reaction was to say “no,” that is until I reached in my pocket. In my left pocket I found my keys and, gulp, in my right pocket were her keys. At half time, I roared back to provide Jean with her keys so she could deal with a variety of errands. I raced back to Free State and discovered that the parking lot was almost full and this meant a long walk back to the stadium.

I had one piece of luck, however: I was there when Shane scored a touchdown and that made the entire hassle worthwhile.

Anyway, the boys’ parents returned on Monday night and soon things were back to normal. Did we enjoy the weekend? Absolutely. However, I am certainly glad that our three daughters were raised in the 1970s when children’s activities were a bit limited. I’m not sure I could keep up with the pace now.

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