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'Tis The Season

Our weekly column from Jessica Sieghart.

I was watching a TV talk show and a family therapist was speaking about the importance of family dinners. She herself insisted that everyone in the family be home each night in order to share their day and dreams over dinner and dessert.  

I don’t disagree with that notion, but all I could think when I heard her speak was a) this woman must not have children over the age of 5, b) she certainly isn’t married to a cop and/or c) they’re dinner time is midnight.   

While I’d love nothing more than to enjoy chatting over a leisurely dinner each night with my family, there is just no possible way this could happen unless I was able to shove my dining room table, and the stove, into the back half of my Jeep. As it stands, I don’t even have time to chew, much less cook and eat.    

Had I a crystal ball and had known I was going to give birth to such talented children, I would have passed on a traditional, “stuck in the ground” house and instead, purchased one of those luxury motorhomes. 

It might look a little Partridge Family-ish, but it would sure beat the cramped quarters of my Jeep eight hours a day and the positives would be endless. No one could forget something they desperately need because we’d have the entire house right there with us. I’d never have to wake a sleeping baby to go anywhere and I probably wouldn’t have to miss any of my TV shows.  

If I had that motorhome, we might even be able to sneak in a family dinner now and then. You know, at a table.   

These after school activities aren’t what they used to be when I was growing up. I did a lot in high school, and somehow, always seemed to make it home for dinner. I don’t remember my mom driving like a loon and chauffeuring us around upwards of six hours a day to one training facility or another, and with the exception of a performance here or there, weekends were free time.  

It could just be that my sister and I simply weren’t as talented as I’d like to think we were, but I don’t think that’s the case.  

When I became a mom, I did have to enter the previously uncharted, to me, area of sports. Since I have zero athletic inclination and talent, it didn’t occurred to me that all four of those swaddled bundles of joy I carried through the front door might just turn out to be athletes.  

When I was in high school, being a 3-Sport athlete was an honor. They even used to give you a patch saying so to adhere to your Letterman’s jacket. Those days are gone. Now, you have to pick one and do it all year or else you’re toast during regular season. Athletically, these high school kids today perform like yesteryear’s Olympians. 

I’ve learned that in sports, there’s “season” and, for me, the even more dreaded “off-season” because that involves getting to practice at a “not exactly around the block” university in rush hour traffic and a lot of waiting in the car.    

I used to complain about all the driving, but after this past weekend, I won’t any longer. ‘Tis now the regular season and all of those miles driven and all of the hours spent eating stale sandwiches in the car have finally paid off as my son has made the IHSA State Finals in Diving.  

They will take place this weekend and the next, we are off to Iowa for a Junior Olympic Diving Spring Regional event.  

He’s quite good, no doubt, but it’s still amazing to me since some of these kids have been diving since they exited the womb and my son made it there with only two years of diving training under his belt...errr...Speedo.  

See, as a non-sports minded person, I had foolishly allowed him to participate in a variety of sports while he was young simply because he liked them. He played soccer, wrestled, swam and ran track. His freshman year, he started in the Fall on the Varsity Co-Ed Cheer squad and much to his diving coach’s dismay, he still does play Water Polo.  

Besides learning how to scream from the bleachers and curse judges under my breath, I’ve also learned that unless you have some jaw dropping, previously hidden talent like my son does, you have to start training at one sport early.  

Forget the cute little weekend soccer and T-Ball games, as soon as my grandson can jump, he’s going on a diving board right along with the other toddlers that my son trains with at the university.  

Until I can get that motorhome, I’ll just have to find a way to get his high chair in the car. When there’s a will, there’s a way.  

How about you? Do you spend more hours in a car than in any other place? What sorts of after school activities do your kids do? Can you pull off family dinners? At a table? I’m finding it impossible with my combined current roles as Diving Mom, Competitive Cheer Mom, Musical Mom and Grandma because something’s always in season. 

Jessica Sieghart February 20, 2012 at 09:46 PM
Hi Pat! Thank you so much for your comment. I'm afraid my sarcasm may not have been strong enough to be obvious regarding that particular point. ;) I'm a firm believer that kids should be kids. I, too, remember the days of just playing at the park with my friends and truly, those are great memories for me. I 100% agree with you that participating is any sport should be fun and a positive, healthful experience. Unfortunately, when the kids get to high school, the sports pressure and practice are both tremendous. My three daughters were all competitive cheerleaders who practiced every single day, including Saturdays. All coaches goals are set for State champions. No one is out there just "to play" any longer. When you have someone like my son, who (ok, bragging a little) is performing consistently at the top of the state and even several state regional level, the training becomes even more intense. My son loves it and I would never force him into something so intense. Believe me, if none had played a sport ever, it would have been fine with me :) The same will hold true with my grandson. He will participate in whatever and how many sports he'd like to. If it's none, then that's fine, too. I don't know how parents can pick a sport for their kids at such a young age, anyway, but when I said my teenaged son was training alongside toddlers, I wasn't exaggerating too much. A lot of kids start diving around 5 these days. Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment.
Lesley A Plage-rohrman February 20, 2012 at 10:06 PM
Again Jessica we run paralleled.Dinner at a table with all of us there is a used to be except for holidays.When we all took karate together i drove to and from the Dojo six days a week for two years chewing whatever i could throw together in the car . what makes me laugh is when i hear if you don't have dinner as a family your children will grow up to be derelicts. Funny with all the sacrificed table dinners i thought i was doing the opposite.And like you said all the moaning and groaning is paying off best of luck to Danny !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Jessica Sieghart February 21, 2012 at 02:30 AM
Hi Lesley! I think we're both doing something right, that's for sure! I moan and groan about driving sometimes, but truthfully, I enjoy the time trapped in the car with the kids. They're quite amusing and they can't escape! Haha! I'm not worried. After four teenagers, I can honestly say that I know it isn't the dinners :) are you bringing the pompons to state or should I? Xo
Charles Gulotta February 21, 2012 at 02:55 AM
No matter how talented the kids are, their success depends at least in part on having supportive and dedicated parents. Yours are especially lucky in that regard. Congratulations to your son, and to you, Jessica.
Jessica Sieghart February 21, 2012 at 12:50 PM
'Tis true, Charles! :) My kids are very lucky-even if they don't always think they are :) Thank you!


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