On parenting and frisbees – Guest post by Dena B. Estrin
The stresses of parenting were getting to me. I had heard one too many comments about my housekeeping– “Yuck!-you’re not going to save that are you?”–as I watched the perfectly good chicken that was a couple of days old get dumped in the garbage. Then there were comments about how I dressed the baby- “You’re not serious, are you?” — off would come the outfit I had struggled to get onto my squirming toddler, and on would go something more to my daughter’s liking.
Then there was the incessant fighting between two kids close in age. And the seeming relentless need to negotiate the lines between the permissible, the not recommended, the definitely not preferred and the absolute ‘no’. The absolute ‘no’ was quickly becoming a nonstarter with the older children—in its place came effortful mediation. This new stage of teenage diplomacy had me tapping into deeper mental and emotional resources until reasonable decisions were reached. Even with the seeming correct parental response, many interactions left us exasperated. There were no right answers and nothing predictable about raising these children!
One particular child was constantly pushing us to the edge- and over. What was most troubling was the breakdown of our united front. Where previously, my husband and I had achieved that vital one-voice parenting mode, now we had entered unfamiliar territory as we struggled to join forces . A thick fog seemed to descend on the parenting terrain as we found ourselves on an unmarked trail navigating unpredictable and sometimes outrageous behavior. It was increasingly difficult to strike that delicate balance between discipline and expectations on the one hand, and unconditional love and acceptance on the other.
That’s why a day in the park, just me and my husband, the sprawling grass, no kids, the stately trees and a few black crows that seemed to follow us seemed the perfect antidote for our parenting woes.
Did I say no kids? Okay–so they were lingering nearby on the exercise apparatus, calling out to us occasionally, but they were seemed aware that this was mommy and daddy time. Relishing in the companionship of the moment and losing myself in our sport of choice, I experienced a sense of trouble-free delight – that distinctive and unadulterated (hey- I just noticed the word ‘adult’ in that word) state usually linked with childhood. I savored the sense of freedom from worries, decisions or outcomes, and felt myself unwind as we started a game of disc golf.
What golf? Disc golf. For avid players the other form of golf is referred to as ‘ball golf’and frisbee golf as simply, ‘golf’. I took to the game right away when my husband first introduce it to me. A former accomplished ball golfer, he happily swapped his conventional golf equipment for the simple plastic disc (frisbee), enjoying the streamlined simplicity of it. Not to mention two distinct factors related to this increasingly popular sport– availability and expense. Respectively: with ball golf, there are sparse numbers of clubs and courses as compared to disc golf where any park or outdoor area will do. Secondly, very expensive compared to free!
As I watch the disc soar towards its target I begin thinking in analogies: There’s such beauty in setting one’s sight on a vision, focusing one’s energy towards an objective and following through with grace and adeptness.
This sport and it’s cousin –Ultimate attracts a disproportionate number of Jewish players. Ultimate, a frisbee field sport modeled after football (the American kind), is gentler and played with more decorum. My husband told me of an all-Jewish team from his Florida days. They called themselves “The Motzah Balls”. Just before the national championship game ,to psyche themselves up, they all ate gefilte fish from a jar. Only it must have been spoiled because they all threw up during the play-offs.
But they won anyway.
Now, on Friday mornings, as a wind down from an intense schedule, my husband meets up with the guys for a competitive game of Ultimate. His nickname on the playing field is ‘Rabbi’.
As far as disc golf goes, Israel’s tournaments provide an interesting interface of two societies as Jerusalem ‘Rabbi’ meets up with Tel Avivians and players around the country, especially since Rabbi is currently Israel’s disc golf champion.
But on this Friday morning, we were just enjoying the sprawling green turf, the fresh air and the break from responsibilities. Thoroughly refreshed, we pack the discs away and are ready to face the weekly dash towards Shabbos–cooking, delegating, baths and a houseful of children.
My husband hoists our two year old onto his shoulders, as we make our way back across the field. I nearly skip with pleasure from the refreshing outing and a renewed sense of confidence in our tight family unit. We banter pleasantly until we reach the car. I toss the frisbees (discs) into the trunk just as an earsplitting shrill punctures the calm.
“I get the window seat now!!!” . “No, you had it twice in a row, now it’s my turn!!!”
What did I say about focusing on a target, and adeptly soaring towards one’s goal? On this parenting principle my husband and I agree:
It’s easier to win the Israel Disc Golf Championships.
Dena is the author of:
Everyday Wholeness: Self-Coaching for the Jewish Family …The first Jewish coaching book; and
It Happened at the Heritage House: Tales from the Legendary Jewish Youth Hostel…True adventures in the Old City of Jerusalem
[Both by Menucha Publishers]
- This article first appeared in The Jewish Press.