Sporting Event? Yes, Please!

Sporting event? Yes, please!

A friend texted me last night, “Crazy invite–but I’m asking!” After that, she proceeded to invite me to join her when she goes to an upcoming high school basketball game.

I don’t know why she thought it was a crazy invitation. I guess for lots of people it would be, but anyone who knows me knows I love being a spectator at most sporting events. Give me a basketball game, soccer game, lacrosse game, baseball game, football game, hockey game, volleyball game, rodeo, tennis match, polo…any kind of sporting event, and I’m game! Pun intended. I love the spirit of competition. I love seeing people do things I can’t do. I simply love sports.

Of course, I was quick to respond, “I will go!” So tonight, we are going to a high school basketball game. Apparently, she has intended to see a friend’s son play for years, but has never made it to a game, and he will soon be graduating. He will soon be playing his last high school basketball game. We are going, and I’m excited about it!

Our daughter graduated from high school last year, so I haven’t had much reason or opportunity to attend high school sporting events since she left for college in August. As much as I love going, I have only been to one football game, a girls volleyball game, and a few soccer games. I’m excited.

All this is my long way of reminding my friends that I’m always up for sporting events…at any level of almost any sport. If any of my friends need someone to go with them, I’m their girl! Just call or text, and I’m there!

My parents were sports fanatics. I remember being in the car with them as a child or young teenager, and they would see a baseball game or track meet happening at the very moment we were driving past. They didn’t want to skip it. We had to go. And that was OK, because it was almost always fun. We attended or participated in almost every sporting event for my high school teams, and in college, I went to lots of things too: football games, basketball games, and baseball games. After college, I was known to attend various baseball games, football games, and track and field competitions all over the country…just for fun.

Some people love concerts. I like concerts, but I’m picky about which artists I’m willing to drop a dollar on. I need to know almost every song someone sings to be willing to spend money seeing them, so I don’t go to a lot of concerts. Whereas, I have friends who will go to just about any concert in town. It’s just personality differences, I suppose. Some of those same friends don’t know the difference between a quarterback and cornerback. They don’t know where right field is or where left field is. They don’t know the difference between a layup and a jump shot. They certainly don’t know what an alley-oop is. Ask them about the Holy Roller Play and the Immaculate Reception, and you’re likely to get a blank stare. Corner kick? They have no idea. That’s OK. It’s not their thing. Ask me to sing along all the words to a Coldplay song, and you’ll get the same blank stare, even though I once waited for my car at the valet stand outside a restaurant with Chris Martin…but that’s a story for another day.

We are fortunate in Charlotte to have lots of sports teams and lots of different sporting events to support. Call me if you need a sidekick.

Sports teams to support in Charlotte

UNCC Athletics: https://charlotte49ers.com/

Charlotte Football Club (Soccer): https://www.charlottefootballclub.com/

Charlotte Checkers Hockey: https://charlottecheckers.com/

Carolina Panthers Football: https://www.panthers.com/

Charlotte Knights Baseball: https://www.milb.com/charlotte-knights

Queens University Athletics: https://queensathletics.com/index.aspx

Charlotte Bootleggers Box Lacrosse: https://pbla.com/teams/charlotte-bootleggers/

Since Charlotte is the home of NASCAR, there are all kinds of auto racing venues nearby. Click here to see a list of racetracks and events.

There are lots more. It would be impossible for me to remember all of them, but off the top of my head, there are lots of high school sports events to attend. Check athletics calendars for different schools in the area.

Parenting College Students After Idaho Tragedy

Parenting colleges students after Idaho tragedy.

Before my daughter left for college in August, I gave her a Birdie personal alarm. It hangs on her keychain, and we have even practiced using it. If she feels threatened, she can separate the alarm box from her keychain, and it sets off a high-pitched, loud audible alarm and blinking strobe. It’s tiny but mighty. (You can purchase one from Amazon here.) It helps us both have a little peace of mind, but we also know she has to take lots of other measures to stay safe in the world. Haven’t we always worried about the safety of our kids in college? But now, with the murders of four college students in one house in Moscow, Idaho, I’m more concerned than ever, even though they have a suspect in custody.

I graduated from the same southern state university our daughter is attending…way back in 1989. Things were different then. We didn’t have cell phones. The university was less than half the size it is now, and there were dark areas in the parking lots. Sometimes, if I drove home from somewhere late at night alone, I would park across the street, in a two-hour parking spot, because it was safer. And often, in the morning, I would find multiple parking tickets on my windshield. I looked at it as the price to pay for safety. My dad was angry the first time he received notice that I had accumulated city parking tickets. When he asked, I told him I would pay them that day. At first, he started to talk sternly with me about the cost of the tickets, but I stopped him when I said, “Would you rather I park in the rape zone?” No, there wasn’t an area actually called the “rape zone.” It was just what I called dark, scary parking lots. And you know what his answer to that question was? “Absolutely not. You park wherever you need to park to feel safe.”

The world can be a scary, dangerous place, and hopefully, our college students realize that. The good news about that realization? If you realize it, then you can take precautions to decrease the possibility of your becoming a victim…like not parking in the rape zone.

The brutal murders of four college students in Moscow, Idaho, in November was a horrible crime, and while it likely frightened every student at that university, I can safely say it scared college students and their parents everywhere. My daughter, a college freshman, called me after hearing about it, asking, “Should I be afraid?” I explained to her that she should be cautious, but she should be cautious all the time. I’m the mother who always reminds her to be aware of where the exits are no matter where she goes…a movie theater, a bar, a hotel room…anywhere. It’s a practice I learned years ago when I was a flight attendant…always know a way out. Also, always be aware of your surroundings. Pay attention to the faces around you; are some of them appearing too often in different places? There are so many things I have told my daughter over the years. I hope and pray she has listened.

But back to her question, “Should I be afraid?” Maybe “afraid” isn’t the right word. I told her to be extra cautious. I told her to take extra safety measures she should be taking in everyday life anyway. I remember Ted Bundy in the 1970s. He was in Washington state, then Utah, then all the way down in Florida. It’s a big country, but it’s pretty easy to move around in it unnoticed. Could the Idaho murderer have found his way to North Carolina? Georgia? Florida? Alabama? You bet he could have. Fortunately, they have arrested a suspect that the authorities feel pretty strongly is the murderer. Does it make us all feel a little safer? Yes, but there are lots of evil people out there in the world, and they’re not easy to identify. If I had seen Bryan Kohberger, the suspect in the Idaho murders, in a store or restaurant, would I have thought he looked scary or capable of brutally murdering four people? Probably not. He doesn’t look particularly strong to me. He doesn’t even look evil to me, but if he committed the murders, he is definitely evil.

That’s what that crime made us all realize. We can’t always recognize evil when we see it, but we can take measures to avoid it. I’m guessing college parents all over the country have been reminding their children of that very fact before sending them back for this upcoming semester. My parents used to tell me ways to stay safe. It’s always on my mind. My daughter now understands why I want her to text me a secret symbol when she gets in to her dorm (or a safe friend’s house) at night. Just sending me “I’m home” isn’t good enough. Anyone could text that from her phone, but not just anyone knows our secret symbol. When I see that symbol late at night, I sleep more soundly. Does she always remember to do it? No. In fact, last night was her first night back at school, and I didn’t get the symbol after she went out. Thankfully, I slept through the night.

Have the Idaho murders changed college students’ approach to safety? I hope so. My daughter and I discussed safety again before she went back to college yesterday for her second semester. I hope college students everywhere know they can’t share their door codes with other people. A secret isn’t a secret if more than one person knows it. Right? If you’re sending your child off to college for the next semester soon, remind them to be cautious. Remind them to walk with friends. Remind them to look out for each other. Remind them to always lock doors. Remind them to park in safe areas. Remind them to be cautious. Remind them that it’s OK to call the police if they are concerned about something or someone.

Tell them you love them every time you text or talk, and hug them every time you see them.

She’s Returning to College

She’s returning to college.

Our daughter is returning to college for the second semester of her freshman year. In just 36 hours, our blissful month of having her under our roof will end. She and my husband will load up her car and start the 450 mile drive back to her university. She will drop him off at the airport before she goes to her dorm. He will fly home…without her.

And our house will be eerily quiet…again. It will be as quiet as it has been for the past few months, since we dropped her off in August. That dorm move-in is a distant memory now. Remember all the planning? Remember all the boxes of dorm supplies and decor stacked up in my foyer? I can hardly remember it now.

She survived first semester. With medical emergencies, the flu, late nights, lots of fun, lots of new friends…she survived. Not only did she survive, she thrived. Our girl was made for the big college atmosphere. It’s her happy place, for the most part. Don’t get me wrong; there were occasional tears. If you have a child leaving for college next fall, just know there will be tears. Sometimes they just have to get through the tears to get to the good stuff. I have told our daughter that in many late night phone conversations. If we didn’t have the bad, we wouldn’t appreciate the good. It’s absolutely true. The good seems so much better after you experience the bad. If your child calls you crying from college, remind them and yourself of that.

I will be having to remind myself of that over the next few weeks, as we adjust to a quiet house again.

Our house has felt like our house again for the past month, while our girl has been home. We had her friends in and out of the house at all hours. Many times, I was up at 2am, making grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup for a gaggle of friends. I’m not complaining; I loved every minute of it. Some nights, I was picking her up from a friend’s house or a party in the wee hours of the morning. After the murders at the University of Idaho, I wasn’t real keen on her taking an Uber. That horrible crime was a reminder that a background check is just a check of what someone hasn’t been caught doing or hasn’t done yet. It’s scary to think young girls all over the country hop into the car with strangers all the time, right? So while our daughter was in Charlotte, I was her personal Uber driver if she needed me. *Say a prayer for the families of those University of Idaho students.*

Did my husband love the late nights? No. It drives him crazy to have to stay up past midnight. He leads a very structured life, and if the timing gets messed up, he’s not happy. I’m a total vampire who flies by the seat of my pants, so in my world, I love the chaos. I love spontaneity. I love getting in the car at 1:30am to pick up our daughter and friends to bring them back to our house. I love standing in the kitchen, in my pajamas and robe, preparing food for them after they get here. And I’m going to miss it.

Will we get to bed at a reasonable hour every night? Yes. Will the amount of laundry I have to do decrease exponentially? Yes. But honestly, I will miss the extra laundry. I will miss watching the clock as we wait for her to come home. I will miss the late night talks in her room. I will miss watching football games with her.

I will miss her.

Thank God we have some vacations coming up soon, so we won’t be in this quiet house. Before we know it, she will come home for a visit. If she doesn’t, chances are I will hop on a plane and go see her one weekend soon…just because I miss her. She’ll need a Mama hug, and I’ll need to see her face to make sure she’s OK.

I keep reminding myself that in just four short months, she will be home for summer. We will take mother/daughter trips again. She will likely want to visit friends in different cities, and that’s OK too. We will just be happy to have her here when we can. Just having that to look forward to will keep us going. Well, that and some fun trips.

Meet us in the Bahamas, but bring your own snorkel gear!