The (Cheerleading) Struggle Is Real

Last night was a perfect storm of parental fandom. Kid D had a baseball game, Kid B had a soccer game, and Kid E went out for a bike ride… all at the same time. With Sheepdog out of town (attending said soccer game with both sets of grandparents), it fell on me to cheer for everyone simultaneously.

I sat in the bleachers at the local baseball park. We just came off a 13-day break in practices and games due to the long Columbus Day holiday weekend, so everybody was rusty, including the fans. The weather during our last game had crept into the 90’s, but we live in Atlanta where the weather is manic, so the forecast called for lows in the 50’s before the game would be over. The mom next to me was wearing shorts (“I refuse to put on pants when I still have a tan!”) but she was prepared with two blankets and her PTA Mafia friends sharing body heat around her.

Kid E joined me at the baseball game, but he doesn’t like to sit still for long. We brought his bike and helmet for entertainment and distraction, and after his nutritious dinner of a soft pretzel and Reese’s cups from the concession stand, he took off to ride like the lead in Breaking Away. But also with instructions to check back in with me after every couple of laps around the track. The park was packed and he is super cute and I will not have anybody stealing my baby.

About a half hour into the baseball game, the soccer game of the season for Kid B’s team began at Glenn Warner Stadium in Annapolis. I’m talking Army vs. Navy and at the service academies that match is no joke. Go Navy! Beat Army!

Like I said, Sheepdog was there in person, but I was home with the others and had to watch online. I tethered my laptop to my cell phone and proceeded to do the 10-second whiplash dance. That’s 10 seconds of watching Kid D’s baseball game, 10 seconds of scanning the park/ bike path for Kid E, and 10 seconds of screen time watching Navy Women’s Soccer.

I think I held down the fort pretty well. It can be tricky, and it was more luck than skill that I was able to see most of the great plays as they happened. Add in a request from Sheepdog to periodically brief him on the status of the baseball game, as well as receiving other notifications from an awesome team dad who lives near the Naval Academy and live texts game updates to a group of us who normally can’t be there in person, a phone call to check-in and let me know what her plans were for the evening from Kid C, as well as a mayday search for Kid E after a no-see for too long (found him, or rather he found me) and a relatively minor bike crash right in front of the concession stand… it was a pretty busy two hours. I had developed an eye twitch, but I got to see it all!


Kid D has a stellar squat game

Fast-forward to 8-something p.m. Kid E was done riding and had joined me watching both games from the bleachers. The Blue Rocks, Kid D’s team, were up 5-3. Rules in the 13-15 year-old league are that you have to play at least one hour and forty-five minutes, so we started the 5th inning. The home team kind of fell apart (it was cold, it was getting late, and they also had the past two weeks off…) and the Blue Rocks ended up scoring 12 runs. The score was 17-3. The third out against us took FOREVER to happen, but it finally did. All we had to do was get three outs against them and we could all go home.

There exists a kind of surreal, slow-motion recollection of this next part for me. The Army/Navy game was getting wild. Navy tied it 1-1, after having trailed for the whole first half and a good part of the second. The crowd got rowdy after the tying goal was scored, and the play on the field was getting heated. Army got a yellow card. With just minutes left, Navy almost scored, but the goal stayed empty. The Blue Rocks got 2 outs against the other team. We needed JUST ONE MORE. Fans were standing in the bleachers at both games. We were all on edge. The excitement was palpable. I was still doing the 10-second drill back-and-forth, screen-to-field. I kept forgetting to breathe.

Then it happened… I gave the baseball game 10 seconds of my attention (that third and final out was still elusive) and then I switched to watching online as a beautiful, sweet kick went perfectly into Army’s goal. I’m not sure at first if it was live or a replay but I quickly realized that Navy had just scored on Army with 0:44 left in the game!

I jumped up from the baseball bleachers and screamed out, “GOAL!” as loud as humanly possible while the other fans and parents looked at me like, “Does she even know anything about sports?”

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

Sheepdog’s Dream Come True

My husband is not a complicated man.  He needs water (often), food (oftener), and sex (oftenest).  But even more than the desire to quell the hormones that frequently control every cell in his body (“But I have the DSB!  This poison is going to kill me!”), he wishes for a friend who shares his passion for cycling.

He has been a lover of the biking since he was a young boy growing up in West Virginia.  Legend (or the stories that Sheepdog and his mom tell me) has it that he built his first bike ramp, Evel Knievel-style, when he was just three years old.  Many years and multiple emergency room visits later, he has established a zeal for the two-wheeled vehicles that rivals Voldemort’s compulsion to kill Harry (side note: in honor of the eighth and final Harry Potter film’s release on July 15th, I plan to put at least one reference to the books and or movies into each post from now until next Friday – you’re welcome).

Over the years he has read, watched, wanted to be, tried, studied, followed, traveled to watch a stage of, or participated in the following: VeloNews, Cycling magazine, Bicycling magazine, Bike magazine, any and every book on cyclists or cycling, countless shows on OLN and Versus, live bike race streams on the internet, a bike messenger, a bike commuter, a bike mechanic, a bike salesman, taking apart and putting back together his own bike – both out of curiosity and necessity, daredevil stunts on bikes not limited to BMX-style tricks with pegs at indoor/ outdoor ramp parks, mountain biking, mountain bike racing (both in good weather and in the unholy desert heat and/or the pouring rain and/or the freezing snow), road cycling – solo, road cycling – club, triathalons, track cycling, criterium, time trials, the Tour de France, the Giro d’Italia, the Tour of California, the Tour of Georgia, the 24 Hours of Canaan, the Six Gap Century, the Tour of the California Alps – Death Ride, and the Leadville 100 – just to name a few.

No, cycling is certainly not just a hobby for him.  It is a part of his heart and soul.  If he is not on the internet looking at pictures of starlets in bikinis or their up-skirt shots, then he is surely looking at the newest in bike technology – frames, gears, suspensions, drivetrains, forks… whatever.   Either that, or he is on craigslist or eBay to see which of those is for sale, “just out of curiosity” (trust me, I’ve had to enforce a budget).

I sill believe you, buddy

And as a human being it stands to reason that Sheepdog just wants to find camaraderie and share his excitement with other cycling enthusiasts.  I’ve tried to fill that role.  I really did.  I have watched countless stages of the Tour (I love Phil Liggett but I’d happily push Bob Roll off of the Col du Granon), I have attended countless races (or “Hippie-Freak-Love-Ins” as I also refer to them), and even tried riding myself (it hurts my butt and I tend to break the bikes – I once broke a derailleur just by pedaling).  “Trying” now consists mostly of me defending Lance (getting harder and harder every time 60 Minutes gets involved) and making fun of the costumes that the cyclists wear (really, there is nothing less flattering than a pair of bike shorts, except maybe biking bibs).

So it is a good thing that Sheepdog has all of these kids.  He is hoping against all hope that at least one of them will share his fanaticism for biking.  But so far, he is 0 for 3.  People-pleaser Kid A really tried to get into it (she even contributed to buying her own mountain bike that they found together on craigslist), but it just didn’t stick.  Kid B doesn’t like to try anything new, so she didn’t even fake an attempt.  Kid C says she will surely ride with him, but she has yet to hop in the saddle.

If you are keeping count, that just leaves the two boys.  As it happens, Kid D – even at six-years-old – often butts heads with his father.  Sheepdog has been trying unsuccessfully to get him to take off the training wheels for years.  Sheepdog’s seemingly casual pleas of, “Wanna go for a bike ride?” are often met with disinterested grunts from Kid D, “…um, nah.”  I keep seeing his heart getting crushed a little bit more with every negative response.  Until the other day.

One of the greatest things about my parents’ house here in New Jersey is the isolation of the very flat street out front.  Nobody else lives and therefore drives back here, so the kids have been able to ride their bikes undisturbed for countless hours.  That has led to a peak in Kid D’s bike riding confidence and a request out of the blue to remove his training wheels.

Sheepdog was remarkably calm and reserved (I presume because he has had his heart broken thrice already) as he got his tools.  He casually handed the bike – sans supports – back to Kid D, showed him how to set up the pedals for maximum push-off power, and gave him the go ahead signal to take off.  Kid D took to riding a bike like a Kardashian to professional ball players, and even the classically pragmatic Sheepdog couldn’t help but whoop and cheer aloud.

In twenty years I have never seen my husband smile the way he does when Kid D now asks him, “Hey, daddy – wanna go for a bike ride?”

Except for the other day when he asked, “Hey daddy – you wanna watch the Tour?”

Wish me luck for tomorrow…