Driving along the New York Throughway coming home from a weekend of intense derby in Boston, kids in the back seat, I'm taken with the scenery. Mountains with rocks jutting out at lovely angles and covered green with trees, the Mohawk River flowing beside us as we drove, banks lined with marsh plants. Vistas for miles. I keep exclaiming "look-it" and "ooh mountains," and it makes me happy that they look and ooh and ahh right along with me.
Traveling with kids is hard. There are extra people to pack for. So many things to remember, like both wrist guards AND a bathing suit for each child, and toys and outfits and books and socks and chargers for everything. Car bags, snack bags, day bags, toy bags, derby bags, so many bags. And then the kids fight all the time. All the time. Over everything you can think of, from who has better gummy worms to where to put Bear Bear. It makes the adults cranky, then the kids get cranky, or cry or take it out on each other, or all of the above. Scheduling meals around derby call times and activities to keep them happy while waiting all those pre-game hours can be daunting, though thankfully this is the work of their Daddy on derby days.
Sometimes exciting things happen on derby trips.
For example, during the B Cup tournament, our car quit working on the way to score some post-game sushi. We had to have it towed and repaired and got to experience UBER for the first time, waiting there on the side of the road in a busy little town in the dark. Without sushi. None at all. And for the rest of the tournament, we had to catch a ride with Murder, squeezing too many people in her SUV, clown-car style.
And when we went to Traverse City for a game and we tried to hike over the Sleeping Bear Dunes all the way to the lake with only two cans of ginger ale and some pretzels. I told them to keep walking, and that it would get easier once we warmed up. Though we walked for a couple hours, we did not make it. On the way back, some of us vowed we'd never attempt it again, but others said someday, and with better supplies.
Even on our most recent trip to Boston interesting things happened. I hurt my ankle during a pre-game scrimmage, then played in the game anyway. I played again the next day and hurt myself even more. But, the kids wanted to take the MBTA into town, so we did and proceeded to walk the harbor walk for approximately three hours, despite my injury, to show the kids a good time. On the walk, we saw planes taking off and landing over the water and everything else the harbor had to offer: boats, garbage, sea birds. We came across some people having a lively game of bocce ball right there in a roadside bocce court, and as we were getting into the game, a marching band came down the street in full marching band attire playing an unfamiliar but upbeat tune. There were fireworks, balloons, a floating duck house, and on the way back to the train we accidently walked through an Italian heritage festival, right there on the street, complete with carnival games, food vendors and live entertainment. We got Bruschetta with a side of French fries.
These kids have had so many exciting adventures thanks to this wonderful little hobby of mine. All these trips that we'd never take if it weren't for derby. They've seen much more of the country and the state than I did at their ages; by age eleven, I'd been up north and to Fulton County Ohio, and that's it. But my kids have been all over. Having them there with me, to experience derby with me, to travel with me on my journey, both figuratively and literally has been a pleasant side effect of playing this game. They're learning about patience, waiting hours for games to start because of early call times. And managing disappointment, because sometimes there are no snacks at the venue, and sometimes Mommy's team doesn't win. They're learning to be brave even when up against a tough opponent, like in Boston when our team was predicted to lose. And that sometimes you come out on top despite the what the numbers say, and sometimes you don't, and either outcome is ok.
Thank you, Ann Arbor Roller Derby, for providing us with these opportunities. Thanks for letting me share my love of this game with my kiddos. They won't forget that they got to travel all over the place to watch their mom play this amazing sport with this amazing league. These memories will last a lifetime.
SheRock has been with Ann Arbor since Wave 1+2, and she currently plays for the Arbor Bruising Company. She is a full-time mom, and her kids are her biggest fans.