I'm up 5 pounds after going to Chicago (really Downer's Grove) for my son's first out of state tournament. While we ate lunch before heading to the airport, it hit me that this trip would be a rite of passage that many, many other parents of young athletes have been doing for years. I felt a strong connection to my late cousin Pia, who spent the last 8 years of her life going to her son’s out of state hockey tournaments. I also felt a ton of respect for my brother in law and sister in law who have been traveling for their son's baseball career (he just committed to UCLA - go Bruins!) and their daughter's baseball and soccer teams for over 9 years.
Pia's husband is still keeping a running tab on how much he has spent on their son's hockey career so far. Jared just turned 20 yrs old. You can imagine how much money they spent without looking at the receipts. I don't think many parents want to even know how much they have spent on airfare, hotel, gas, rental cars, restaurant tabs, grocery store runs, passports, sports equipment, uniforms, bottled water (I personally think this is the silent money drainer), adult beverages, pet care for pets left at home and tournament fees etc. The logistics that goes into a weekend tournament for the parents of these athletes is a lot of work and expensive.
One act of thoughtfulness during these tournaments that I have found so sweet is when I witness parents making sure their athlete is well-fed so that their chances of success is greater. Food and thoughtfulness go hand in hand. My family drove out to Nebraska to watch our nephew play in a little league tournament. During the game, I witnessed my brother-in-law come straight from the concession stand with a hot dog to feed his son while he was waiting to bat. Eli, had been playing baseball for hours straight and hadn't eaten anything since breakfast. My hub commented that his brother was being a helicopter parent and thought the hot dog was not only unnecessary but over-the-top. I disagreed and saw only pure love from father to son. It was something my dad did for us when we were involved in sports or competitions.
Now that our son is competing in tournaments and some hockey games start as early as 730am, I see this same pure love from father to son. Seven thirty am start time means backing out time to eat breakfast, time to travel, brush teeth and get dressed. The hub will climb out of bed (he may or may not be hung over from date night) to make a Mc Donald's breakfast run for our son. He never just buys him one Sausage Egg Mc Muffin, he buys two and adds a hash brown, just in case my son is extra hungry. Yes, the same hub who doesn't eat fast food and the same hub who made fun of his brother for over-feeding his son and keeping tabs on his kid's feeding schedule. The thoughtfulness is uncanny isn't it?
My brother-in-law is also notorious for packing lots of water, ice packets and cold wet wash cloths for his daughter Gracie for her hot days playing soccer. He has a routine for packing up the car so that they are well-prepared to face all-day soccer tournaments. For his birthday our thoughtful pinch to him was a portable wagon because he was making two trips to get the umbrella, chairs and cooler out to the field. Parking for these soccer tournaments is never easy so this could mean a mile round-trip trek sometimes.
On this Chicago trip, I observed how thoughtful parents are in order for their children to not only succeed but to flourish. I didn't rent a car because of course I thought I could just wing it when we got there. Well, one of the days we had a 730am game with a 7am pre-game warm up. I was grateful to get rides to/from the rink with another family who rented a car. After I calculated the time table, I immediately stopped drinking my wine and eating my pizza so that I could jump into a Lyft. I knew that in order to get my athlete into game-ready shape, I had to go to McDonald’s that night to pick up the tried-and-true Sausage McMuffin (and lots of other stuff like less expensive bottled water, a vanilla shake for me and some oatmeal for my breakfast). When my son woke up the next morning, he had time to eat his re-heated (but still delicious) breakfast and get ready for the 25 min drive to the rink. I must say it was well worth the roundtrip Lfyt ride to Mc Donald's that night because he scored a goal that morning.
I know not all parents are created equal and this thoughtfulness displayed via food and prepping for game days may not be your cup of tea, but this cute thoughtful pinch may warm your heart. The coach’s wife gave these jerseys to the boys to tape onto their hotel doors. The players were so proud to see their numbers on them and to display them on their "home away from home" doors and I LOVED it.