They go by many names and their numbers are legion. They are the rinkrats, the gymbugs, the warm room warriors. They are the younger brothers and sisters dragged along to their sibling’s activities who must wait years before getting to be out there themselves.
At first, they are oblivious to all the commotion going on, nestled as they are in their little baskets with a sippy cup and a teething ring.
All too quickly however they are walking and running and trying to get on the field. They are crying for Butterfingers from the vending machine and hanging from the catwalks at the Alfond. They are making new friends and forming conspiracies in the bushes behind the dugout.
But they don’t get to pick the post-game meal and get stuck with pizza when they really want a burger!
And all of their equipment will be ‘broken in’.
All of their bikes will already have been ridden.
All of their gloves will be pre-chewed.
Their skates will be pre-fumed.
Their sticks will already have chips and goals notched on them.
Unless they do something sneaky like play with the other hand. If big bro is a lefty, they might be a righty just to make mom and dad buy something off the shelf for a change instead of digging through the boxes in the basement. That will show them.
In fact, the younger ones will show the older ones a whole ton of stuff.
They’ll already know how to put on shin guards and shoulder pads and helmets because they’ve seen it done, like, a million times already.
They’ll know where the good fries are.
They’ll get to use the hotel swimming pool and have as many breakfast waffles as they want because they don’t have to play a game in an hour.
They’ll walk sooner, ride sooner, swim sooner just to show they can keep up.
They’ll make friends with the other rinkrats, build cities out of cardboard and duct tape and be awesome teammates when the time comes.
And Mom and Dad will be better prepared as well.
They’ll know how many snacks to pack.
They’ll have a canopy for track meets.
They’ll remember to make sure you have your cup.
And Dad will already know where all the arenas and fields and playgrounds and good grub stops will be and they won’t have to park in the Brewer HS lot and trek through the woods to get to the Penobscot Ice Arena for that first learn to skate session had because dad could NOT freaking find ACME road!
Yes, let us thank the little brothers and sisters for all they do.
They bring their brother a lollipop after a tough game.
They’ll share their coloring books on a long drive.
They’ll be the loudest fan in the stands…for about five minutes and then they have to go find their friends and trade Poke-mon cards or play floor hockey with a ball of tape.
But watch out big sib. That little kid that follows you around all the time and can be seriously annoying asking you to read books to them and slow down so they can keep up and wreck your Star-Wars lego At-te is getting bigger and faster and thanks to you, already knows how to play the game before they even start.
As Richard Williams said when his daughter, Venus, was just beginning her reign of supremacy over the women’s tennis world with wins at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, “You ain’t seen nothing yet. Wait until you meet her little sister, Serena.”