Captain’s Log: On Track Parenting

Captain’s Log. Diaper Date 2642. Daddy Chronicles. I’m on track. Rather, I should say I’m on a track. You see, I’m a gymnastics dad (usually my wife takes the kids, but sometimes I do too)., and part of being a gymnastics dad is watching.

Actually, most of what I do is watch. I have little else to offer here. I have no experience with gymnastics except that time I almost dislocated both shoulders playing on the rings, there’s no flash photography allowed (there are signs posted everywhere), and in the last email correspondence from the gym, parents were explicitly warned that if we continued to communicate (wave even) from the track that is suspended above the workout floor, it would be viewed as a distraction and thus the track would be closed to all spectators.

And so for 45 minutes each week, I am reserved to a chauffeur and voyeur.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. I can’t teach my son and daughter all the tucks, twists, and turns. And so I watch. I watch my kids, other people’s kids, and other parents.

Sometimes sports is like a parental scouting opportunity. Not to judge. Not to grade. Just to observe.

And that’s when it hit me. Parenting is just like the very track we were standing on.

We spend much of our lives in routines – running, with a purpose, in circles, but with a purpose. But we don’t all use the track the same way.

Some are walking. Some running. Some are standing still. Some become obstacles. Some are aware of those moving around them. Some are oblivious to everything including their own existence. These are all the parents I see on the track.

And to be honest, at some point during my many trips around the track, I probably fit each of those roles. With so many people on the track, you sometimes don’t know where you should be. You feel invisible and in the way at the same time. It can be awkward.

Early on, I spied my daughter. She was flexing her muscles and psyching herself up for the bar. She caught my eye, and smiled. She understands that we aren’t supposed to wave or interact. Yet somehow I felt better knowing that she knew I was there and watching. Silently supporting.

About 35 minutes into my 45 minute silent stroll on the observation deck, my son spots me. He is in a small group of other small people doing fun things. He had just vaulted himself into the pit screaming Buzz’s line “To Infinty and Beyond”, and was laying on his back on a pile of styrofoam blocks.

He gives his version of thumbs up – which a is a wink and just the tip of his thumb like he had just flicked a marble. His teacher sees him looking at someone and looks up to see who he is staring at. Last week she asked if I knew him. This week I’m afraid she will find me in violation of the email edict and kick me out.

Instead, she just smiled and asked if I saw his Buzz impersonation. My son seized the moment and engaged me with a question, “Daddy! Guess what?” He screamed.

“What, buddy?” I replied sheepishly, still thinking of the email.

“I love you!” He responds and smiles with his marble flicking thumbs up.

“And I love you too, bud.”

And it’s right then that I realize that I am on track. Exactly where I should be.

That’s it for now…Captain out. IMG_7641-1.JPG

7 thoughts on “Captain’s Log: On Track Parenting”

    • Sometimes theres this inherent need to be a part of things, when all they want ir need is from us is to watch. It is a struggle I am working on. Lol


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