This weekend I packed my two oldest children and headed out of town to attend a sporting event in which they participated. I am now a traveling sports mom. Groan. What makes this a first for us is that 1) it was overnight, therefore requiring a hotel room and 2) two children participated on both Saturday and Sunday. Jay and Lily stayed at home giving them a rare weekend together that included tea parties and lots of snuggle.
My main beef with this entire "traveling for a child's sporting event" is that it breaks apart families when the weekend is when families spend the most time together. I can add that it seems ridiculous to devote time to a sport at such a young age (8 and 9). Finally, it costs money. However, in the land of swimming, "our sport", it is what it is. You can't really compete in swimming year round by staying only in our little town.
So, what made me change my mind a bit on this issue? Several moments during the weekend, actually. Here are some funny moments from the weekend:
As we make our way east, the kids are pumped and we make a stop at Sheetz to pick up a light lunch and gas up. Their coach probably doesn't need to know this because Sheetz, with "s" replaced with "z'" in every possible written instance, is not exactly the top of the food chart of healthy eating. However, my kids think that the ordering at the gas pump is the coolest thing since sliced bread and thus a bonus point for mom.
At the pool, I get drafted to help the team get the swimmers to their events on time. One of the coaches gets me a volunteer sticker and I place it on my chest without too much thought. After I have walked throughout the arena, I look down and gasp. My tag reads, "Star Kid Pusher." Yeah, you read that correctly...KID PUSHER. Does that sound like I am at a swim meet or that I am ready for DSS to carry me away?!? It made me laugh as well as my kids...a LOT.
The next highlight came after the meet when we checked into the hotel. My kids really haven't stayed in many hotels as we tend to opt for condos or houses on vacations. I had not realized that. They are acting like it is Christmas morning as we walked down the hall of our hotel to our room. As they burst through the door, they started running around. "Mom, look it's a bed!" "Mom, we have our own coffee maker!" "Mom! Did you see the bathroom?" "Mom, is that a sofa?." I nearly fell on the floor laughing, because you know, they have never seen a sofa, or coffee maker or gasp...a bed in a hotel room. They quickly claimed their spots - Ethan in the king bed with me and Sadie on the pull-out sofa (another WOW moment when that magically appeared).
Another highlight was dinner out with several of our teammates after day 1. What made this nice was that the other families also attend my kids' school. The kids all got along and the adults had enjoyable conversations. I will add that it was the first time my son, 9, ordered from the children's menu, completely devoured his meal (ribs) and had to order more food. I guess he will be an adult menu orderer from now on, which means paying adult menu prices.
The three of us hit the hay back at the hotel by 9:30 after I was subjected to some really bizarro cartoon on the cartoon network. You are definitely limited by what you can watch in a one-room hotel room with kids. The show is called "The Secret Saturdays" and it is just strange.
During the night, Ethan was all over the bed we were sharing. Tossing, turning, kicking pushing and mumbling. I don't know how many times I shoved him to the other side of the king-sized bed only to find him right back next to me seemingly within minutes. Finally, I sat up and with a slightly elevated voice said, "Ethan, that is enough. You have to stop kicking and hitting me." His mumbled answer: "Mom, I am sorry. I was having this dream where I had to get this crazy, laughing elephant back to the circus. I guess you were the elephant." He laughed. I laughed and I marked ribs off his menu possibilities in the future.
The next morning we had some time to kill before we had to be back at the pool. After the complimentary breakfast, we decided to hang out in the room. Two other teammates came with us and I ended up making two forts for them to play in. One was in the closet with a blanket over the desk chair. The other was made between the bed and the wall, using the sofa cushions and the coffee table. It kept those 4 kids busy, along with their DSi's, for several hours.
As far as the actual swimming that occurred, the kids dropped times in all their events except one each. We left the meet all on a chlorine and adrenaline high. Ethan is gaining confidence and a self-awareness of what he is doing right and wrong with his strokes. Sadie is determined to swim the 100 fly at the next meet which no 8 year old attempted at this meet. They are really pumped about the next meet in mid-January in Rock Hill, SC.
Swimming continues to be a great decision for our family. It is growing our kids mentally and physically and gives them a completely different atmosphere than school and home. For that, I am willing to hit the road.