We laugh about it. Now.
If you know a child that competes in outdoor sports, you can relate. The day they head into the biggest event of the season is the day the weather is gleeful in unleashing surprises.
For several years we never knew if we’d risk sunburn or frostbite as we cheered on our girls in their pursuits. Our trunk carried lawn chairs, extra outerwear, blankets, hats and sunscreen. You just never knew.
While the athletes certainly had the toughest job in dealing with the elements, let’s not overlook those intrepid fans in the stands who are there not even for the love of the game, but for love of one of the players in the game.
Our kids had indoor activities too (we never fought off the elements at a music festival…just saying) but we spent a lot of time outdoors on bleachers watching their efforts. We got wind burned at soccer, sunburned at track, and I can’t put a number on the times we needed to wrap up in blankets in an attempt to stave off the cold.
One late October weekend Outlook High School hosted provincial championship soccer following days of massive snowfall. It took volunteers hours of work to push it all into banks outlining the perimeter of the field. This was quickly followed by temperatures dropping to an extreme (or should I say obscene) level. No number of blankets could abate the biting cold. But the fans showed up and we did our best to shout out encouragement.
One year our daughters played on two different soccer teams and both made it to provincials on the same day in different places. My sister and I followed one team while my husband and a grandma went the other direction with promises to send frequent updates.
While dad and grandma enjoyed a relatively nice Fall day in the southern part of the province, my sister and I headed to a school further north where we encountered harsh winds, snow and such cold temperatures we didn’t want to emerge from our mountain of blankets to get our phones or check on updated scores. Those running the canteen at the school were very kind to bring coffee out to the stands but again, few were willing to unearth themselves from their cocoons, even for the sake of a steaming, fresh beverage.
Most children like knowing someone is there watching them sing, play, dance, pass, run or shoot. The activity is one thing. The attentiveness of someone who loves them is the other. As they get older they’re not as likely to wave at you in the stands or nudge their teammates and point out their parents have arrived, but make no mistake…most would rather have you there, than not. To have eyes on them.
The math startles me when I realize it was 25 years ago this week that my husband and I got on a plane and flew to Romania to meet our daughters who were living in orphanages at the time. Those little girls have grown into loving, kindhearted, wonderful women. Of course I am biased, but I couldn’t be more proud. Or grateful.
The day we were at our youngest daughter’s orphanage we had some time to go into one of the rooms where the little ones were being put to bed. There were many cribs. Delwyn and I went to them all to talk to each precious child, share some smiles, and give them toys we had brought with us. These were the faces I often saw as I went to sleep at night. One of them, our daughter, would soon be home with us. We had no idea what might happen to all the others.
One of the lullabies we sang to our girls spoke about every child having someone to tuck them in at night. We added words to that song to encourage us to pray that more and more children would soon have a family to call their own.
November 20 is World Children’s Day, a date that marks the anniversary of the United Nations General Assembly’s Declaration of the Rights of the Child, as well as the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Goals are set targeting education, health, peace, respect and environmental concern. These are important initiatives. Equally important, I believe, is that every child has someone in their life who is in their corner, eager to be a part of all they do, and committed to having eyes on them. To truly see them.
How wonderful it would be if every child had someone to show up for them. To listen, to encourage, to teach, to comfort and to cheer them on. But it’s not a one-way street. Having a child in our life—be it our own, extended family, or someone in the community we’ve come to know, is a treasure to be cherished. On World Children’s Day, consider how wonderful it is if you have a child in your life you’d sit out in the wind and rain for—just to show them they matter. That’s my outlook.