Saturday, March 29, 2008

Sometimes it's just cold.

I had worked hard all day to get to his game, as I like to watch him play. Actually, I like to watch what he does when he sits on the bench, too; the way he engages people, his mannerisms, his smile. But, I digress.

The old wooden stadium was built for a football crowd, long before soccer became a high school sport. The grandstands run east to west and, luckily on this day the wind was out of the south so if you sat high enough the wind might miss you. The game time temperature must have been close to 40 degrees. At least that's what it read on the bank's sign just outside the campus. But with the wind's assistance it felt like a lot colder.

I sat (and sometimes stood) alone way high in the bleachers. I'm sure some thought it to be strange. There were thirty, maybe forty people in attendance, most of them parents or grandparents of the players, I'm sure. There was a small group of maybe eight or so students that must have had a friend on the team, or maybe they needed an excuse not to go home. Either way, it was nice to see.

The game was fairly uneventful--unless you were watching every little thing your son was doing. Many times I felt like cheering when my boy broke free from a defender at breakneck speed--only to have the ball go the other way--and cheering wouldn't have been appropriate. Many times I felt my heart swell with pride and I heard myself say "way to go" or "atta boy". It was at those particular moments I would look down and see my former wife and her husband all decked out in hoodies and wrapped in a warm blanket, seemingly oblivious to the game being played. It was in those moments I felt the most alone. Suddenly, the bleachers couldn't block out the cold.

Sometimes the hardest thing about this whole single parent thing is NOT being able to share what you feel as a parent with the only other person who might understand what it is that you feel.


McSwain said...

Yeah, I hear you. My ex is still single, and sometimes I can't get him off the phone because he still wants to talk about our son forever. It's the thing that keeps us civil--that pride in and concern for our son. I'm always glad that my parents tend to come to games--it helps.

I hope your pride in your kids gives you some warmth at these times--it sounds as they give you reason to be proud.

Lori said...

Reading this just makes me hurt. I am remarried and my kids' dad is not. But I try really hard to make sure that he doesn't feel this way. Because truly...he is the only other person who 100% understands the complete love for these two beautiful young people.
I say...go ahead and cheer, for there is still so much to cheer about.

Anonymous said...

Thanks John. For me...alone and being "left out" are close cousins. I'd take the lonely over the "left out". Hurts less. Mark

Pete Vander Meulen said...

hmmm.... when you said that "they were oblivious to the game" I had a completely different reaction than that of loneliness. My reaction was one of pride, one of focus, one of feeling almost like one-of-a-kind for you being a person who focused on the game. It's as if you wanted to understand what he was going through on the field. Trying to envision things through his eyes, his perspective of the match. If it's not about the score but how you play the game, being able to communicate how cool it was that he outran that middle fielder while passing the ball in the second period, being able to recall "the shot you almost took" and to describe the field of play with that's something to be able to stand in the bleachers and shout about. John, your eye for knowing the game and for understanding the value of good competitive persistence lets you have conversations with your boys that no one else can have. THAT is fulfillment, the opposite of loneliness. Again....hmmmm.... focusing on the playing field instead of the bleachers has life lessons regardless of the sport, regardless of the analogies.

Stand proud as you stand alone.