Taking One for the Team
Please tell me I’m not the only parent who is flummoxed, exhausted, and simultaneously bored by my kids’ youth sports endeavors. The schedules! The logistics! The getting lost finding new and more remote sportsplexes! The snack duty! If it weren’t for the victory ice cream cones, I might not make it.
As a mom with ADHD, I’m grateful for my family’s capacity for forgiveness. Small disasters in organization and time management tend to balance out because I’m good at other stuff, like affection and ice cream after a tough day. Or a tough game. Which brings us to my dubious masquerade in the arena of youth sports, ongoing for years now.
I have a zero sports IQ. Too many rules and too much stimuli. But both of my kids play basketball. My husband, wisely and wordlessly, has from the start managed everything from equipment to scorekeeping to tactical advice.
It’s a very good thing he has.
Their travel game schedules are a nightmarish juggle, even for parents with solid executive function skills (read: not me). And that’s just getting to the right place on a given weeknight, Saturday morning, or Sunday afternoon.
Theoretically, I want to be a sporty parent. I do! It’s very all-American to witness your child’s growth as an athlete and a team player. I just stink at it.
The problem is not a lack of love or interest. It’s iffy sustained attention. Poor tracking of who is playing defense (yes, I oops-clap for opposing teams) and location (forget cleanliness) of uniforms. Also, ticking clocks feel like time bombs to me.
Today’s youth sports take place in a cheery crucible called a “sportsplex.” These are huge warehouses off of highways, surrounded by acres of parking lot. Mobsters used to hide bodies in less desolate zones. Only now, they are teeming with wholesome youthful activity. Dozens of teams play day and night, in assigned courts/pens/rinks for tightly allotted time periods. It’s a constellation of buzzers, action, and humanity.
The potential for me to botch things up here is astronomical. I could be late, lose my player or their sibling, waste time with the wrong herd because team colors are often duplicated, neglect hydration. Even if I make it to the right bleachers, there’s the assault by well-meaning but bewildering adjacent parents who share updates in jargon I don’t understand.
Then there is all that benevolent but distracting yelling among coaches and referees. Before long, I’m squinting at the scoreboard — hungry, antsy, and overstimulated.
And if I have to use the restroom, it’s always during that critical window of absence that my kid finally scores. Which I will hear about having missed all the way home.
It’s true that ADHD does nothing to help my natural deer-in-the-headlights reaction to our kids’ sports endeavors. But, in this family, I get points for effort and ice cream. And that’s the name of the game.