Thursday, July 21, 2011
I stood under a shade tree on a St. Paul street and watched as my daughter finished up her workday this afternoon. Pint-sized athletes cheered and high fived, then dropped soccer balls into the net bag she held open for them. Water bottles and backpacks were rounded up. Parents sauntered onto the field and ushered their children to mini vans. A movie of my life--one of those moments when something comes full circle. Fifteen years ago I was the mom in droopy jeans and a drab t-shirt picking the grass out of a little blond girl's hair as she bargained for a fast-food burger. Today I was the coach's mom visiting from California, my daughter behind the wheel chauffeuring me.
I was not a sporty child. Softball was the playground game during my growing up years. Struck unconscious by both bats and balls, I was equally afraid on the outfield and waiting my turn to bat. I was the girl picked last every recess, relieved on the days when red rover was substituted for softball until I was reminded how much it hurt my hands to have someone plow through the clenched barrier. Dodge ball, given my Catholic education, seemed to me to be a sport invented at the Roman Coliseum, an imperfect blend of cruelty and entertainment.
I never expected to have an athletic child--or to have a moment like this morning where the smell of grass and sweat brought that little girl back to me at the same moment that she stood there in the sunshine, a grown woman.