The Sporting Life

Staff Writer
Columbus Parent

If there's one episode that sums up the difference between how my husband and I approach our kids' sporting activities, it would be the time I trusted my husband to get our then-7-year-old son ready for a swim meet.

It was a summer evening, and work obligations meant I had to meet my men at the swim meet. I got there not long after they did, but before the team started their warm-up swims.

We set up our camp chairs and I settled in with a magazine and a bottle of water. The coaches called for the kids to swim, and my son pulled down his sweat pants.

And then he pulled them right back up. During that two-second interval, approximately half the team saw proof that my son is indeed a male.

I turned to my husband, after I calmly finished my swig of water.

"Where's his swimsuit?" I asked him.

"Where's your suit?" he asked our son. "You said you had it on when we left."

"I I thought I did," our son replied, still clutching the tops of his sweat pants.

"I asked him if he had it on before we left," my husband told me, "and he said he did."

(At this point, many of you are already nodding knowingly.)

"Did you see the suit?" I asked.

Translation: My husband had failed to make visual contact with the suit. Sure, when it comes to the minutia of swimming, he could probably tell you who won the bronze medal in the 1956 Summer Olympics men's 100-meter backstroke, but the minutia of everything that goes around the actual sport doesn't really register on his radar. But it does on mine.

By the time we found a baggy pair of board shorts to borrow for our son that night, we learned that the only things he had packed for the meet were his Pokemon cards, a penny-hockey board, three-and-a-half candy canes and a bendy straw. But he didn't swim badly, other than diving in once to do the butterfly and coming up doing the breaststroke.

I'd like to think we all learned something that night, but I know we didn't. We have a system as a family and in its own dysfunctional way, it's functional. Every family does. Sometimes it's the kid who's the preparation fiend. Sometimes it's the single mom or dad who gets it all done, or a grandparent, or a sympathetic neighbor.

No matter how we do it, though, sports are a part of many families' lives, and in this month's issue we consider sports from a few different angles - including safety, cost and accessibility for players of all abilities.

And we also dive into summer with our annual emphasis on parties. What a privilege it was to learn about quinceaeras, those wonderfully extravagant birthday parties for Latinas turning 15. From the fascinating rituals (the girl enters the party wearing her sneakers and then changes to grownup dress shoes) to the extraordinary clothes (be sure to check out our Well-Dressed Kids feature for some truly adorable kid party clothes), I learned so much about other Central Ohio families and the traditions that make their lives rich and memorable.