Last week, my mother announced that she will be retiring from her job as a second grade teacher.
I was slightly surprised by the announcement. While she had been considering retirement for the past few years, she seemed reluctant to finally take the big step.
I can understand her reluctance. She’s been working as a teacher for over 20 years, so teaching has become part of her identity, and as far as I could tell, she still enjoyed the job.
I’m sure she also realized that once she retires she can’t really change her mind and go back. At her age, I’m pretty sure once she’s done, she’s done for good.
That sentiment is why I’ve found it so difficult to stop playing kickball.
It isn’t a secret that I love kickball. I’ve been playing since 2005 and have dedicated an insane amount of mental energy to the game. But all things must end, and it feels like my end time is rapidly approaching.
Many of my friends (and especially Mrs. Cutter) will probably roll their eyes at this statement.
This isn’t the first time I’ve talked about quitting the game. Heck, I even “retired” when the Cutlet was born. I figured that once I had a child, my life would be so different that I would have no desire to go back.
But I hadn’t realized just how much my social life had been associated with kickball. Many of my friends were still in the league, and when I saw how much fun they were (or at least appeared to be) still having, it made me wistful.
So in the winter of 2011, I returned to kickball and have been playing ever since.
I actually play two varieties of kickball: Indoor and outdoor. Outdoor is played in the Spring and Summer on the National Mall, while indoor is played in the Fall and Winter on a basketball court at the YMCA.
(If you’re curious as to how indoor kickball works, you can read the rules here: Indoor Kickball Rules)
Unfortunately, playing kickball on an indoor basketball court leaves one susceptible to injury. Or at least, it leaves one susceptible to injury when you play as recklessly as I do. I have no qualms about diving on the floor or crashing into walls in pursuit of making a play.
I lost track of how many (fortunately mostly minor) injuries I’ve suffered while playing. Just three weeks ago, I thought I broke both of my elbows when I dove for a ball and landed elbows first on the hardwood floor. Luckily, I only suffered some bruising.
Unfortunately, these injuries seem to be more common these days, and the recovery seems to be slower each time.
I try to take some precautions. I make sure to stretch properly before each game. (Although inevitably, if there’s a body part I don’t stretch, that’s the one that I’ll injure) I also wear Under Armour tights and knee pads to keep my legs and knees intact. Sure, it may look a bit ridiculous, but looking ridiculous has never stopped me from doing anything before.
Then again, I’ve always been prone to minor injuries while playing sports. As a child, I’d often come home from little league games complaining about one minor ailment or another. So the threat of injury isn’t the only thing making me think about giving it up.
Kickball – or at least for the kickball league I play in – is intended to be a social sport. Sure, the games are fun, but there’s more of an emphasis on the post-game socializing. It seems like the target demographic is people in their 20’s who can party into the wee hours of the night, wake up the next morning, and get ready for the next party.
I am well removed from my 20’s and that type of partying is beyond my capabilities. On the nights when I do want to stay out a little later, I end up paying for it. Since moving further away from the city, it takes considerably longer to get home from the games. This has resulted in some late nights and sluggish mornings.
I also need to be careful about how much I drink. Before, if I over-imbibed, I had the option of simply walking home from the Metro. Now I would have to take a cab to get home, and I’d have to deal with the inconvenience of retrieving my car in the morning. Not to mention an inevitably irate wife.
I am not alone in my scaled down socializing. I’ve been playing on the same indoor kickball team since 2008. While there has been some turnover, the core of the team has been around for a while. As a result, much of the team is on the older side.
When we go to the bar after games, we largely sit by ourselves and watch as the younger members of the league dance around and make merry. Sometimes we’ll play some flip cup and socialize, but it seems like it takes a huge effort to do so.
Many of my contemporaries have already moved on, and others have expressed a similar desire to give it up soon. As a result, here is a strong suspicion that this will be our last season together.
Since this is the final week of the season, that means that tomorrow night may be my last time ever playing indoor kickball.
But then again…
I’m already signed up to play outdoor kickball in the Spring, and based on past history, there’s a strong possibility that I’ll rationalize signing up for the Summer season as well. Once that happens, it wouldn’t be too difficult to envision me heading back to the YMCA yet again next October.
So I completely understand any eye rolling that goes on when I talk about quitting.
Unlike me, my mother’s decision has been made, and she seems comfortable with it. She’s going to have a lot more free time on her hands, and hopefully she fills that time well.
I know that my parents are already making plans to travel, and they look forward to spending more time with their grandchildren. Once she starts enjoying her freedom, I’m optimistic that she won’t look back at her decision with any regrets.
Hopefully, when the time comes for me to finally give up playing kickball, I’ll also be able to do so without regret.
Sadly, it’s more likely that the end will come when one of my minor injuries turns out to be not so minor, and I’m simply no longer physically capable of playing anymore.
Although, they’re doing wonderful things with replacement hips and prosthetics these days. I mean, people with artificial limbs are actually competing in the Olympics! Considering the relatively low level of athletic ability in the kickball league, I’m sure I would still be able to hold my own even with one good leg…
Yes, it is very possible that I will never retire.