We got to the field for my daughter's flag football practice a little early the other night and she wasn't ready to get out of the car. So I parked and we sat there together and listened to One Direction on my iPhone.
A few minutes before the practice was supposed to start, she got out of the car and made her way through the parking lot and over to the field -- with me watching her the whole way.
I didn't have any errands to run. And our house is just a little too far to drop her off, go home and then back again. So I had brought a book. (The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach. Really good read.)
But I was distracted.
Distracted by other parents with their kids. Little kids dressed in what seemed to me to be doll-sized soccer apparel, holding tightly to their parents' hands as they walked through the parking lot. All excited to go run around a field for an hour. Looking up at their mom or dad with a shiny little face. Like they thought their parents were the smartest, most awesome people in the world.
And I was surprised by the sudden pining I had to be holding my daughter's hand and walking over to the field with her. And sitting on the sidelines watching her and her little friends run up and down the field.
But she's 13, so all of that was just way out of the question. She doesn't even want me to watch the practices. (Though I do anyway. I show up at the end and thank the coaches. I want them to know that I care. And appreciate their volunteered time.)
It's just that it doesn't seem so long ago that I was taking her older brother to his first season of soccer. The league was co-ed and there were no goalies. Just a bunch of kindergarteners chasing a ball around not really paying attention to the fact the game had rules.
He's 15 now.
The wave of nostalgia kept me from reading my book. Maybe it was because my period was a few days late. But the other part of it, I think, was just remembering that feeling of getting the kids out the door to practice when they were younger. At least twice a week for the last 10 years.
Most seasons, one kid had practices on Mondays and Wednesdays. While the other kid had Tuesday-Thursday ones. So I'd spend my weekday nights sitting at the field. Soccer, baseball, basketball, softball.
It was a simpler time. The kids were always ready to go. They never had very much homework. And neither had a phone nor an iPad or iTouch or any of those sometimes evil mind-snatching devices. (We've recently gone on electronics lock-down in our house. But that's another story.)
Buying them new cleats, glove, bats, pants etc. for every single season because they grew so much from the year before. And the younger one never seemed to be in the right sport at the right time to be able to wear her brother's hand-me-downs. Not that she would have.
I remember getting them geared up for their Saturday games. Packing the miniature cooler with water and Gatorade. Trying to remember if it was my week to be snack mom, drink mom or orange mom. (We live in Florida. It's really hot. And there are a lot of oranges.)
I snapped back to reality when I heard the sound of a whiny little kid. "But I don't want to play soccer anymore. I'm hungry. I'm thirsty. I'm tiiiiired."
It was enough to make me stop my pining and remember how much I enjoy my kids at this age. Even though teenagers bring a whole new set of challenges to life.
I got out of my car and walked over to my daughter's flag football practice. We made eye contact across the field. I know enough not to wave at her. And I didn't mind that she didn't walk back to the car on the same side of the field as me.
She gave me one of her smiles when we met up by the parking lot. The smile that I know means she still thinks I'm pretty awesome. She just doesn't want everyone else to know she thinks that.
I get it. I have parents too. And, many years ago, I was also a teenager. So I'm fine with that.
But if she ever wanted to hold my hand, I would let her.