Friday, September 10, 2010

Marsi White: An Ode to Wipe Out

So tonight is "Ladies' Night" on the TV show Wipe Out. Though not my first choice in television, I am completely entertained. On my right is my six-year-old daughter, curled up on my husband's lap. In front of me, my 10-year-old sits drinking a soda for dinner, after just returning home from soccer practice. My daughter is extra excited because she always roots for the girls, more specifically, the pretty girls. My son and husband are equally engaged.

As I watch, it occurs to me that we are bonding. And I wonder: is it such a sad state of affairs that it takes a show like Wipe Out, where people make complete fools of themselves, for the modern family to bond? It is hard to NOT to find funny a girl calling herself the "Naughty Baker" trying to cross the scarecrow planks, while getting plowed-over by a device called “the rug burner” and being splattered by raw eggs and milk. Regardless of the subject, we are laughing together. And for a family who is pulled a several different directions on any given day of the week, anything together is fantastic.

I do not think we are much busier than any other family of four. Our son plays competitive soccer, which has two practices a week and games on weekends. As any parent of an athletic child knows, the seasons for the different sports overlap. For us, baseball starts up at the same time as soccer tryouts. Other than that, our schedule seems fairly tame, compared to what I imagine it could be.

Yet, we are never home. I think this is the norm. I am the stereotypical soccer mom without the stereotypical minivan. I work. My husband works. We work hard. We pay our bills. It’s funny - I have a much different picture of what it means to be a soccer mom, now that I am one. I used to think soccer moms didn't work – rather they just ran taxi service to practices. Not so much. The more I delve into the soccer world, the more I know. Most moms are just like me. Most dads are just like my husband. Balancing their jobs, family life and schedules with the growth and development of their children. Who would have thought?

I had a similar experience when I joined the PTA. Yes, there are the crazies, but most of the parents who were really getting things done were just like me. Smart and smarter. Funny and funnier. Focused. Awesome.

And along comes the summer. I longed for the lazy days of summer to be filled with endless family bonding time and countless memories. We envisioned the kids with little to nothing to do, us in hammocks sipping our beers reminiscent of our childhood (sans beers) and wishing we did not have to go to work on Monday. After the race horse of a year that we had all had, I was planning the dream. However, summer seemed shorter than usual. The honey-do list went untouched. Vacation was postponed until winter. We did not hammock-it-up once. And most of the beers I had were when I was out with the girls.

With summer coming to a close, I keep picturing the kids reciting in front of their class a back-to-school essay on the topic, “What I did this summer?” and I think to myself, what will my kids say? Did we do enough? We did manage a two-day jaunt to Vegas and they did partake in some pretty inventive summer camps. But, will they be proud to read their essay, or will they tremble in front of the class at the notion of reporting that they went to a couple of local soccer tournaments and swam in their grandparents’ pool? Did we achieve the balance between obligatory schedule and family time, this summer? What is it that they say about good intentions?

The kids are about to start 2nd and 5th grades. They have grown so much over the summer. Matured so much. Realizing how fast their childhood is fleeting by, I know I will continue to crave time with them. In an ideal world, family bonding will occur naturally around the dinner table every night. However, fast food around the dinner table is just not quite the same as sharing something home-cooked; so, I better start cooking again soon. Summer days will soon give way to a routine of soccer practice, dance lessons, hectic work schedules and lunch dates. I will be back to taking family bonding time where I can get it. Even if it means watching Fly Girl dominating the Wipe Out Zone at a tremendous cruising altitude.


  1. I was excited when I saw you wrote about Wipe Out because the whistle-blowing referee on the "Girl's Night" episode is a friend of mine.

    Like you, I'm still looking for this stereotypical soccer mom. I've coached youth soccer and baseball for 17 years each, and I've barely seen that either. Parents are so busy, they drop off the kids and send a sibling to pick them up 2 hours later. I seldom have any experience with the parents of the kids I coach.

  2. Loved the last line of this -- well, loved the whole thing, but BAM that just brought it so neatly together. Great work, Marsi!

  3. I recognized every line of this. I ended the summer wondering how well we did, too -- did we check enough boxes? Pointless, but universal.

    Beautiful writing, Mars.

  4. Thanks, all. @Steve, Wipe Out is a fun show and your friend is great!