photo by Steph Wilbur Ash
Get up. We have to leave for (distant land here) in order to be there by (some ridiculously early time).
I know it is Saturday. I know you already get up early on weekdays for school. I get up early those days for work. I agree that the most pleasurable weekends are spent goofing off outside and playing video games and also drinking wine and watching House Hunters.
Stop crying. Those last ones are for me. You do not have to watch House Hunters today. You should never drink wine.
Yes, you actually did see this one coming. This tournament is meticulously detailed on that spreadsheet currently taped to the fridge, and in that shared Google calendar that your coach updates daily. Also, I reminded you before bed.
And yet here we are, already 10 minutes late. Get up.
No, it is not my fault that we are already 10 minutes late. I have been asking you to get up for 10 minutes. Get up.
I know you are cold. I am cold, too. Not as cold as you because I slept in my clothes to save time and you refused to sleep in your sweaty, pit-stained uniform lest you wrinkle it in your bed. If you get up and put on your uniform now, you will not be so cold.
Breakfast? We’ll talk about breakfast when you are up. Get up.
Of course we don’t have to go. Let’s not go! Let’s go to yoga and then drink wine and watch House Hunters and eat brie! Let’s read People magazine and talk to my sister on the phone for three hours!
You don’t like that? Sleep until dinner! Then I can go to two yoga classes without you blowing up my phone, looking for breakfast.
I see you are up. That is good. Good job for getting up.
Of course LeBron James had to deal with this. And Maya Moore. And Joe Mauer. And Lindsey Vonn. And David Beckham. And Zach Parise. And all of those Olympic athletes depicted in that Procter & Gamble commercial celebrating moms. But I’m going to level with you, kid. We’re not doing this so you can go pro. LeBron James was averaging 21 points a game by his freshman year of high school. Lindsey Vonn moved to Colorado when she was 11 because she'd mastered regional competition. Joe Mauer left T-ball at age four because he was hitting it too hard for the other kids.
Your talents at this sport are—umm, how do I say this without being perceived as a mean parent—age-appropriate. You are a hard worker, tenacious, and teachable. You play with a lot of heart and very little fear. Once you start, you don't quit. Certainly you are destined for greatness in something. But, the number of high school athletes who go pro is less than 1 percent, and you’re not even in high school yet. And, I’m sorry, but your cultural and genetic makeup does not scream “professional athlete.” For the rest of your life you’ll be shaking what your momma and daddy gave you, which statistically adds up to extreme competence at spreadsheets, flavoring flare at savory soups, light humor at dinner parties, and consistent loyalty to your family and friends.
And that, dear child, is the answer to your cries of “Why?!” Because you promised to be there and now your team depends on you. The lesson inherent in that statement is why we both do this. Later in your life you and your loved ones will inevitably come up against some tough stuff. We want you to be the kind of person who gets out of bed swinging.
This is why I stand before you now—in yoga pants that will not see the light of yoga today, and with two—count ’em, two—stainless steel coffee mugs filled to the brim with coffee, which I plan to drink on the drive, waiting for you to put on these $120 shoes purchased for your use in this sport.
I do this because you committed to it and I committed to you.
Did you know that for $120 I could buy 12 sessions of yoga, or 12 bottles of cheap wine, whichever comes first on our way home from this tournament?
You didn’t? I will tape that fact to the fridge.
Now let’s go. I’ve got a lot of People magazine to read when I get there. And you’ve got ass to kick.
Breakfast? Oh. Breakfast.