When parents looks back over their years of parenting, it doesn't take long to recall some of the most ridiculous things they've done just for the sake of their kids.
Well, that exact thought ran through my dirt-pelted head many a time this last Saturday.
I'm not sure if any of the other parents getting sandblasted next to me in the bleachers were thinking the same thing, but I think we all deserved our own trophy for the "Sacrifice Yourself for Your Kid" award.
My oldest daughter had a softball tournament last weekend in everyone's favorite summer destination, Hays, Kansas, a beautiful spot on the earth where the gold wheat fields surround you and the townsfolk are sweeter than molasses. The weather prediction was pushing 100 degrees and breezy so we prepared for a hot, windy couple of days. No big deal. Done that kind of softball weekend and could do it again.
However, never done that kind of weekend in Kansas. What a difference a few hours south means! We poor Nebraska parents had no idea what we were about to face when we pulled into that open, treeless ballpark last Saturday morning.
Apparently when Kansas weathermen predict "breezy," they actually mean horizontal F5 tornado winds and straight smack out of the south. It was so windy, I swear I smelled a hint of the Gulf of Mexico a couple times and wondered if I should watch out for flying cows. The Kansas folks made no fuss about it all, like it was just another day, and probably thought it quite a knee slapper to see all of our McCook parents and players hunting for shelter from the vortex.
Those same Kansas parents also knew to grab the dugout and bleachers that were OUT of the wind and to grab them early!
This in turn, left us pitiful, confused visitors to sit in the bleachers and dugout that was in the direct path of the hurricane force winds.
At first, we kind of laughed about the magnitude of the wind and how we couldn't hear each other talk, and how the girls had no idea what their coaches were yelling to them, and so on. But, then ... the real fun began. Unbeknownst to all of us bleacher bums from Nebraska, was that the red Kansas dirt from the fields, which were obviously not wet down between games, was going to continually blast us from head to toe ALL ... DAY ... LONG!!
Well, let me tell ya, it doesn't get much more fun than spending the day sitting on metal bleachers in 150-degree heat and getting caked in the face and limbs with a 2-inch layer of red clay and sand. "Fun" doesn't even really describe the thrill! However, it did start to get "FUNny" about the last game when we started to get a real good look at each other and survey the damage the wind and dirt had done to all of us. One mom hit the nail on the head, describing herself as an Oompa Loompa, from the original Willy Wonka movie.
She was right on. All of our faces and the fronts of our legs and arms were coated in a nice even layer of orange sandy dirt. One would have thought we all got locked in a spray tanning booth wearing shorts, T-shirts and sunglasses for WAY longer than recommended. We thought it was a sunburn at first but one swipe of the forehead proved otherwise. We should have known. We'd certainly eaten enough dirt that day to cover our recommended fiber portions for at least a week.
It wasn't until the games were over and we got to see each other from a distance that the ridiculousness of the situation became humorous rather than painful. One mom took off her sunglasses and smiled revealing her raccoon eyes and bright white teeth. Another mom pointed and laughed at her, not knowing that she looked exactly like the mom she was making fun of, and so on and so on, until several of us were pointing and laughing and taking pictures.
When we got to the hotel, my reflection in the mirror was shocking! I can only imagine what the hotel desk clerk thought of the hideous beast at her counter. Not only did I have layers of red dirt spread all over like dark foundation, but actual drifts of it on the sides of my nose and in my ears. It was lined in the wrinkles of my face, under my fingernails, and even down my shirt. I wasn't sure where to start and contemplated just stepping into the shower fully clothed and starting there. I sure hoped the hotel drain could hold all this mud that was about to hit it.
Thankfully, the water and soap revealed the true white me and the drain managed to get rid of the parasitic red dirt. I got to spend the rest of my evening in Kansas relaxing in a cool, non-wind blowing atmosphere, along with the other spray-tanned moms. Our troubles were over but we'll never forget our day as the Red Dirt Rangers! It's amazing what us parents will sit through just for the sake of our kids!