Picture it. Nice cool fall day, followed by a lovely evening of kiddy soccer. Happy family arriving in the minivan; fresh cool water in-hand. Smiling faces as the child skips a happy little skip onto the field, waving to the other team and encouraging them along. Ahhhhhh….Can you picture it? Well if that were all true, it would be nice. I, however, did not have that night.
Let’s start off with the weather. It is fall in New England. FALL. However, it is not a brisk fall temperature at all. HOLY HOT, BATMAN!! The gauge in my van said it was 98 degrees. 98!!! 9…..8….! WHY?! My lovely child is in the van, and already has ‘stink head’ from school recess earlier that day. You know ‘stink head’, right? That sour, sweaty smell that just seeps out of their pores. So I pull into the “away” field with Stink Head…I mean, with my lovely child…and the only other people there are members of the red team (we are the blue team, for those of you who want to keep score!). Stink Head takes one look at the red uniforms and exclaims, “There is the enemy!” Wait! What?
After a quick huddle with Stink Head about how the opposite team is NOT the enemy, and we are to be good sports (with an emphatic reminder that while we want to win, more important is playing with integrity), comes the quick change in the van. Off with stinky school uniforms, and into HOT nylon soccer uniforms which include ripe, stinky feet placed into soccer cleats. I go to grab her water bottle, and the “Worst Mom of the Year” award goes to…ME! I forgot to fill it up. The best I can offer is a warm Gatorade from the back of the van. So off grumbles stinky head child as she joins her other melting teammates in some attempt to, ironically, “warm-up.”
All of the parents for both sides were clustering into a small corner of the field that had the slightest amount of shade. Bound together, we watched these little kiddos play. Hot. Sweaty. Tired. My poor husband helps to coach her team, and I could see him melting from where I was sitting. My little Stink Head is still rocking the cough that seemed like it would never end. Add the humid, hot air to all of that running around, and it is truly a recipe for disaster! I could hear her hacking, above the best cheers wilting parents could muster from the coveted sideline shady utopia!
The team switched out lines often. Well wouldn’t you know it, one of the littlest players takes a cleat to the face. I mean, just a tiny little girl. POOR KID! My husband calls me over, and I proceed to check her out. Well, that did it! My already tired, stinky, sick child became VERY stinky on the inside. How could I possibly care about another child, when clearly my child was about to burst into flames! How could I even think about anyone else when my Stink Head was about to keel over, because #7 bumped into her, and surely broke her leg (her leg was just fine, by the way, and did not even bother her until the other child needed some attention!)! I gently brushed my stinky head child aside, and made sure bleeding child was ok.
Bleeding child’s mom came out from the sidelines and took over from me, which left me open to tend to Stink Head. By this time, she is in hysterics because of how mean I am, and no one cares about her leg or her cough…which this hysteria is now triggering…a full-on coughing fit. So I do the only thing a mom can do. I pick up the even more stinkier headed child, wrap my arms around her hot, sweaty body, and pull her close. I kiss her stinky head, and try to comfort her. I knew at this point, the game was a lost cause. She felt like garbage, and I was sweating in places that I did not even know one could sweat from (and I was not even running around!).
In that moment, I looked at the faces of the other parents around me. It was a knowing look of thankfulness that it was not their child, and solidarity. WE HAVE ALL BEEN THERE! WE HAVE ALL HAD THAT KID! I am sure “super moms” would take this time to teach a valuable life lesson about perseverance in times of trouble. A teachable moment to reflect on how we could have made the day better. Well, I was having none of that! I was tapping out, and taking my sick, stinky-headed child home to feed her, put her in the tub, followed by stories and then BED!
A quick kiss to my husband and I carry a stinky child to the car, buckle her in, and put the a/c on full blast. A little Air 1 Radio on the drive home and when we arrived, I did just as I said. Walked in, and fed her grilled cheese with grapes (her favorite!). Gave her a lukewarm bath to clean her stinkies, and cool her off. A few of her favorite stories, and then off it was to bed.
Sometimes you just need a mom to help take the stinkies away. Some of you may be thinking I am doing too much for her…coddling her too much. Remember, she has lived with us for almost 3 years and came from horrible beginnings. I count myself lucky…blessed…to be able to care for her in this way. She is 6 1/2 and most times, she is pretty good at handling life. But when she is sick and hot and tired, all bets are off. I did the best this mom could do: Cradle her up, and love on her.
Tomorrow is a new day. We can face those challenges on a good night’s sleep, and A LOT of a/c (it is still a raging heatwave here!). So to all the mom’s who have had THAT child at the game or the grocery store or the doctor’s office, it’s really ok. WE HAVE ALL BEEN THERE! We ALL have stinky head children! Hang in there!
P.S. Don’t forget the water bottle!