A bleacher wrestler, a butterfly, and an inauguration

Categorized as 04/20/09 Goshen News column

I know you will think this is positively un-American and about as unpatriotic as it gets, but March Madness came and went with naught but yawns from us over here. As near as I can tell, the sun is still coming up, the earth is still spinning, and the tides have been rising and falling in spite of our lack of interest.

For whatever reason, we just don’t watch a lot of sports. Maybe it’s because Mr. Schrock is too busy shouting down Hitler and Goebbels on the history channel or brushing up on the latest weaponry and battlefield strategy with his friends on the military channel. Perhaps it’s because I’m too preoccupied with the latest mystery, trying to deduce if it was Professor Plum in the library with the knife or Miss Scarlet in the ballroom with the rope. Or maybe it was actually Mr. Green trying to frame Miss Scarlet by – well, you get the picture.

No matter how apathetic you may be about sports in general, it all changes when you have a child playing. Suddenly, there is one jersey in the world that has your attention. If your name is Mr. Schrock, you are focused with the intensity of a weapons-grade laser on that one sweaty kid. You catch every twitch, every move. You note the strategy that is being employed. You are reading the body language and facial expressions to gauge his mood and attitude.

In addition, you are watching the other players on the field or runners on the trail, evaluating the strategies, disposition, and abilities of the opposing team. Afterward, you are able to give a concise, three-sentence summary about the whole match, including why we won or lost, why the other team won or lost, and how we can for sure kick their tails the next time. Or something like that.

Watching our second son wrestle was exhausting for him. When the whistle would blow, it was all he could do not to bob and weave right there in the bleachers in unison with his son, dodging takedowns and going for the pin. It took a great deal of effort to keep both his feet and his seat firmly planted. That, and the tube of Liquid Nail I started carrying in my red purse.

Now, if you’re an in-depth analyzer, a bleacher wrestler, or you’re clocking a runner, you can’t be hollering around while you’re doing it. Someone else has to cover that end of things. And that someone would be –

I can’t help it that I have the gift of encouragement combined with an inner cheerleader that’s just full of cartwheels and team spirit. Add that to a strong desire to see my sons succeed, and it gets a little noisy at times. There’s just something about watching my kids in competition that brings out my hidden pom-pom girl, and I find myself shouting helpful things like, “You can do it!” and, “Gun it! Make ‘em eat dirt!” or, “Clean his clock!” After all, I’ve got to do something to earn those big bucks I’m getting paid.

I also can’t help it that I’m a social butterfly. Since Mr. Schrock is too engrossed in what’s going on to socialize, it falls to me to cover the social beat.

I admit it. I’m easily distracted in a crowd of people. There’s just so much to research; you know, important things like handbags and hairstyles and the countless human dramas that play out wherever people gather.

When you’re a people person, connecting with others is in your DNA. It’s what you do. So there I am, socializing away, and all of a sudden I realize I’ve just missed seeing one of the boys bat. Or I didn’t catch that move the wrestler just put on the other guy. Or the runner got past me and I was talking with another mother. This worries me.

For years now, I’ve harbored a secret fear that someday one of the boys will be elected President, and I’ll miss the whole thing. I can see it now. Caught up in the excitement and history of the whole “The Schrocks Go to Washington” script, I’ll be so curious and awed by what’s going on around me that I won’t see him actually take the oath. I’m afraid I’ll be so busy making friends with the Vice President’s mother that I’ll miss it.

Oh, I know better than to openly gawk around with my binoculars, analyzing the hairstyles and fashion choices of certain congressional members. I would never be so gauche as to take pictures up close of RIPs (Really Important People) with my cell phone. And I’d try very hard not to forget myself and wave at the cameras, shouting, “Hi, Mom!” I just hope I can stop making friends long enough to see our son become the leader of the free world.

Thankfully, I can count on Mr. Schrock not to miss a thing. I know he’ll give me an accurate summary of everything I might have missed. I just hope that he can hold still in his seat while it’s all happening, because I just ran out of Liquid Nail.

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