• Comment

Chris Gay: Always attend Field Day

Posted: May 7, 2017 - 1:45am

Just after I awake every morning, I check Facebook on my phone.

I do this to make sure all my family members are out of jail. Good news: Most of them are.

Each morning, Facebook shows me some memory from years past. Usually, it's a cute photo of one my kids. I'm amazed how time has performed a Usain Bolt impersonation and zipped past.

In recent days, I've looked at memories of my triplets competing in Field Day when they attended Warren Road Elementary. Those days were always a blast.

I'm thinking about writing a book about parenting in the 21st century. There's certainly no shortage of content. This would be one chapter: Always Attend Field Day.

If you have a child in elementary school, take time out of your busy schedule and go to Field Day. Circle that date on your calendar. Make it a priority.

If you attend Field Day, you will fall in love with it. I went to my first one when my children were in kindergarten. They absolutely enjoyed having me there, and your children will love having you there as well. One of the myriad reasons for having children is so you can soak in times like these.

Field Day is such an enjoyable occasion. Years ago at Warren Road, different classes competed against each other in various games. The competition usually lasted about 90 minutes or so. It could've lasted all day for all I cared.

When my children were in second grade, they were all in the same class - after being separated in kindergarten and first grade. I could now pull for - and help assist - the same team in their various events. My favorite event? Tug of war.

The kids in blue shirts - Mrs. Wingate's class - lost their first match of this double-elimination event. Then, those little guys regrouped. In the next go-round, they tugged and tugged that red bandana (the "flag") tied to the rope as hard as they could until the whistle blew 18 seconds later. The children jumped up and down after the victory. Pure elation.

In the next match, the blue team grabbed the momentum at the start and didn't let go. They won in 10 seconds to advance to the finals. Pure domination.

All of a sudden, this felt like Game 7 of the World Series. It was just Field Day, but I felt tiny bumps rising on my skin. I was nervous, and I wasn't even competing.

The final event was everything you could imagine: the kids on the blue team giving it their all against the yellow team in an all-out, ­slobber-knocker. The red flag shifted toward the yellow team at the start. A few seconds later, the blue team pulled it back. For a few seconds, the flag remained in neutral, the teams locked in a stalemate as parents, grandparents and teachers yelled, "Pull!"

The blue team kept tugging, the boys and girls leaning back. The flag kept moving their way closer and closer as the screaming continued. After more than 30 seconds, the whistle blew. Those blue-shirt kids leaped up and down, their arms raised toward the sky.

My eyes started sweating a little. (Folks, this is why you wear sunglasses.) I felt pure joy for these children. I was so happy to see them all so happy. My heart, like the Grinch's heart, grew three sizes that day.

As parents, we live vicariously through our children.

We try our best to prepare them for academics. When they make good grades, we're awfully proud. But there's some different about seeing them compete in Field Day events, compete in sports.

My children play sports to have fun. I also know that through sports - and Field Day games - they learn how to win and how to lose - and not enough folks in this world know how to lose. But when they win, we celebrate.

I'm beginning my fourth season coaching baseball at the Family Y. We're in this weird 9-12 age group, but most of my kids are now 11. When they were 9, my son pitched against some children bigger than me. I was just glad my team escaped any serious injuries that year - we missed postseason by a game.

Last year, we made the playoffs for the first time. While we lost in the semifinals, we accomplished a goal. In the championship game, the team that won it all didn't celebrate. They acted like it was nothing. It was later learned that team was playing in two leagues at once. There's something not right about that. Somewhere along the way, the adults robbed the children of the joy of playing baseball.

If my baseball team is ever fortunate enough to win the championship, I expect my players will jump up and down, hug each other, go crazy.

Heck, there might even by some more eye-sweating. And if we don't win? The kids will learn a lesson that will benefit them even greater down the road. You can't win them all.

Before my team gets thick into baseball season, I have one more Field Day to attend. My fifth-graders left Warren Road last year for various reasons and now attend the charter school in Hephzibah - a much better school. Field Day might feel a little different than it did when the triplets were much younger, much smaller. Still, I'm looking forward to it.

I hope you look forward to Field Day as well. If you don't make it this year, go next year. You won't be disappointed. And if you do go, make sure you take your sunglasses. You never know when your eyes are going to sweat.

 

  • Comment