My three boys frequently think as a pack. Regardless of parental
influence, they have very strong ideas on what is cool, what is
uncool, and what constitutes social suicide. Yet in my effort to
push a sport with a decreased risk of traumatic brain injury, I
signed the two oldest up for Chicago Park District volleyball this
You would have believed I was making them wear pink tutus to
perform "The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies" in front of the
entire school based on their reactions. The cries of protest were
"Volleyball is LAME!"
"Nobody famous plays volleyball! There aren't even trading cards
"Volleyball is NEVER on TV. And if it's not on TV, it's not a
Whatever. I was going full speed ahead with my plans, but I
secretly prayed that there would be at least one other boy in that
park district class. It doesn't seem to matter how hard I
discourage the kids from labeling activities by gender, my lads
flee any event that doesn't include at least one representative
from their sex.
The small class was mostly boys. Despite this, my sons remained
semi-skeptical, so I knew I still had some work ahead of me. It was
no small miracle when I discovered that two of my nephews would be
playing volleyball games that very weekend.
Joe and I packed up the minivan and first headed west to
Romeoville to watch cousin Bobby Walsh take the court. Bobby and
the rest of his nationally ranked Lewis University team
demonstrated how volleyball is played to perfection. For someone
like me who was once fired by her own beach volleyball team for
repeatedly hitting balls into Lake Michigan, I was wowed.
My boys were slightly impressed, but still didn't want to stick
around for "Autograph Night," citing hunger and the long line of
Thankfully, the weekend was not yet over.
Cousin Mathew Walsh was set to play a weekend tournament over at
McCormick Place along with his 18 Gold Ultimate Team. I'm not sure
what exactly that means except the players are all under 18 and
probably are fond of gold. Here is where my kids' interest started
perking up. They saw boys, including ones close to their own age,
In the world of third- and fourth-grade boys, an overhand serve
is akin to walking on water. Or owning a Wii.
Additionally, their Aunt Michele brought along Skittles. And if
you ever want a kid to love a sport, by all means, associate it
I had them.
I continue to be so grateful for the wide variety of cool "big
cousins" who provide outstanding role models to my boys. There are
amazing scholars, athletes, artists, and humorists in there who
dazzle me more and more with each passing year. Even more
impressive is the kind and generous nature these kids demonstrate
on a daily basis.
After the weekend was over? I signed up the kids for an upcoming
clinic on overhand serving.
It was their idea.
Game. Set. Match.
I know, I know. I suck at volleyball. And its terminology.
But you knew what I meant.
Marianne is mother of three sons and the wife of a southside Irish fireman. She has learned that sometimes you're just too dumb to know what makes you happy. She blogs regularly at We Band of Mothers (webandofmothers.com) and curses with even greater frequency. Her material is written for the imperfect, the imprudent, and the impatient mothers who know that all this stuff is really very funny if you just give it a minute.
See more of Marianne's stories here.
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