growing up i was a bit of a tom boy. i played outside a lot – my summers were spent playing in the creek or the woods behind our house. we spent hours rolling around in the grass and playing hide and seek. there were games of whiffle ball and kick ball. i enjoyed it. one year in P.E. i was the first to climb the rope and ring the bell. but i hated running on command. it was selective athleticism, at least i think it was.
in middle school i tried out for soccer and did great in the scrimmage game to test our skills and i didn’t mind running during the game or practice (as long as the ball was involved), but after we did that, the coach looked at us and said ok start running laps. i laughed. i quit. i guess i wasn’t disciplined enough to care about running laps. i didn’t see that as something to make me better at the game ( i get it, but not for me). that ended my school sports team tryouts – did you know that you have to run laps with every sport?
in high school they implemented the mile run rule – finish under 16 minutes or fail. one of the teachers told us it was because the first mile run of the year, a group of us walked it and took our sweet time because we were talking and laughing. to encourage us to care more and talk less they made the rule. we still talked but walked a tad faster and we all passed.
also i wasn’t always the most coordinated person. in middle school during the football rotation i didn’t catch the football, but rather allowed it to bounce off my middle finger and bend it backwards. i cried. the teacher let me walk laps the rest of the football rotation because anytime the ball came my way i moved out of the way. it hurt me once before – i learned my lesson, so i moved. the teacher decided i would get more from walking laps and would be less of a tripping hazard for the other people actually playing football.
in high school during the hockey rotation, someone hit the “puck” under my feet and i fell. bruised my backside and ego. tripped and messed up my knee during the flag football rotation. i got hit in the face with a ball during the ping pong rotation. went under the hurdles during track – those things are scary. i found excuses to sit out and just read, study, or talk to my friends. i was fine not playing. i was fine riding the bench.
also when i was in high school our church decided to have a co-ed softball team. they asked me to play because we had a lack of females. i told them i would come to practices and show up to the games so they didn’t have to forfeit (they had to have so many females present to play). my only rule was that i wanted a position that i didn’t have to do anything. they put me in right field. i wore the uniform and the glove (usually on my head or on the ground at my feet). i was safe most of the time, but there were a few people that could aim the ball – and they did right for me. this softball team was before andy and i started dating and he played center field which also meant that when those people aimed the ball towards me he also played right field. i knew enough to get out of the way and watch him play. it was a great chance to flirt, because he was my hero (swoon). once a ground ball came my way and i had the thought that i could handle that…as i bent down with my glove the ball hit a hole in the field and popped up and almost got me in the face. so it was determined that ground balls weren’t safe either. i would bat – most of the time they told me to just stand there. in all of our games i remember actually hitting the ball 4 times and i made it to first 1 time. the other 3 i hit it right back to the pitcher and got out.
(two photos i will share only because it proves my point)
softball doing absolutely nothing and the second a football game (i don’t know why i was clapping – yay football maybe? i don’t know…)
i was in elementary school and there was an allison b (with two L’s), an alicia, and myself (alison g). we all looked similar and people would mix us up. i remember one time when we were playing kickball at recess: there were two captains and with the first pick they said alison. i was startled and started to walk forward and the kid laughed and was like not you, allison b. i have a ton of memories watching them play kickball while i sat with other friends making flower necklaces (out of the white flower weeds), shooting the tops of other weeds at each other, and trying to whistle using an acorn lid or grass.
i make the above statements to say this. i went to school with most of the same people from k-12th grade. when it was time to pick teams – i wasn’t usually first. i was usually picked towards the end. if there was an odd number of people i got benched. there was no shame in being looked over when the teams were picked. there was no shame in not getting picked. there was no shame in being benched. when it came to athletics i knew my place.
years later and i am not dealing with athletics but this adoption process. i have mentioned that it is a weird process and i never thought that the adoption process would conjure up so many memories of me sitting on the bench all those years ago. i never would have imagined that i would be walking to my mailbox, thinking about the adoption, and get a whiff of cut grass and honeysuckle and be transported back to that grassy hill in elementary school watching my classmates play kickball. or be at work and hit my shin on the desk drawer and be taken back to a time of clumsiness and avoidance. i have gone down memory lane of all the times i was looked over and not chosen.
we are up for a home study update. which means that we have been officially waiting for a year. since a year has come and gone we have to update certain forms and have another home visit. since we have gotten to this time of officially waiting for a year i have been met with a lot of mixed emotion. first, still very excited to see what is in store for us this year. nervous about what will happen this next year and of the unknown. sad that it has been a year already and we are still waiting. our waiting feels a lot like being benched.
we do not get a call whenever someone looks at our profile, but sometimes i ask our case worker if anyone has viewed it. she doesn’t give me specific numbers, but we communicate about it. i will ask her how maybe birth mothers are about to pick and she gives me the numbers. i know one time i asked and she did tell me that someone was looking at our profile in the next few days and so i held my breath for an entire week. each time my phone rang i prayed it was the agency. each time my e mail beeped, i hoped that it was an email to make my dreams come true. but a week came and went and i couldn’t handle not knowing anymore. i sent an email and asked if she made her decision and our case worker stated she had – that the mother wanted a family that already had siblings (adopted ones to be specific) because she grew up in a large family and wanted her child to have siblings that were adopted too, to have that in common. i was sad, but i understood. we have met several people in our waiting families meetings and we know that several have been placed. we also got an end of the year newsletter with statistics of how many people had been placed in our area for the entire year that we have been officially waiting. the way i figure is we have been passed over 32 times (plus or minus some).
i find myself as an adult, years beyond my schooling days, and still i am being benched. it isn’t like before where i was still part of the team, just not in the game. it is like i am sitting on the bench watching people rush by to new adventures in their lives. we updated our paperwork and are waiting for the home visit. once that is completed we will still be officially waiting, hoping, praying, and dreaming that our time will come. waiting is hard. so while the world rushes around us and people continue on with their lives, we sit, back against the wall, my head on andy’s shoulder, fingers intertwined, benched.