As stated many, many times, I am pretty much a textbook introvert. Which is not to say that I don’t like people or that I don’t sometimes enjoy going out … just that I find being social exhausting and I need a fair amount of alone time to recharge.

The pandemic, at times, was a struggle for me because I never got any time by myself.

My older daughter, however, is a textbook extrovert, and although she bravely soldiered through the pandemic and never really complained, it was definitely hard on her to be cut off from all of her friends and social activities.

What she missed most of all was roller derby. By the time everything shut down, she had been practicing and training for more than a year, working her way up from Level 1 to Level 3 and earning a coveted roster spot for several travel games.

Over the years, I’d watched her gamely struggle through basketball, volleyball, lacrosse, softball, and soccer … always being a good sport but mostly sitting on the sidelines. Suddenly, she’d found her talent – an unconventional one, and one that sent us to urgent care a couple of times, but something she loved and was good at.

The Wednesday night before everything went crazy, March 11, 2020, she attended what would turn out to be her last roller derby practice for almost two years. They were adding extra practices and training hard in preparation for Clover Cup … which ended up being canceled, just like everything else.

She took it in stride and didn’t complain, but in late May of that year, we found ourselves on the street we would always take to drive home from derby practice, and she burst into tears. “I miss derby and all of my derby friends so much,” she wailed, just about the only time she let herself break down. I felt so helpless. As a parent, there isn’t much worse than seeing your child hurting and knowing you can’t do a damn thing to help or make it better.

I just hugged her and let her cry and promised her derby would be back one day.

Well, it took two years, which is a lot longer than I originally thought, but derby is back, y’all!

The practices are outside now and everyone is masked, so it’s not exactly the same, and some of the kids have aged out or lost interest. For me, the most jarring part was realizing I had to buy a new mouthguard, one to accommodate braces, as the last time she got geared up to skate she was still waiting to lose the last of her baby teeth.

After I dropped her off for her first Sunday practice, I more or less held my breath for two hours. There’s a certain kind of deep sadness in going back to something you once loved and realizing you don’t love it anymore, and I feared that was going to be the case for her and derby.

But no. She got into my car after practice absolutely glowing – and not just from sweat.

“All my friends were there, and I still know how to do all of my skills, and I bet I can get back up to Level 3 really quickly if I practice, and I am going to train my ass off to get back to where I was, and I’m just so so happy right now! I missed this so much, Mom!”

This time I started crying. Just as there isn’t much worse than seeing your kid sad, there isn’t much better than seeing your kid happy.

The pandemic isn’t over. COVID will never be over, I guess.

But one by one, little by little, we are getting our rituals and our lives back.

Two years later, two years older, and she is rolling right along!

 

Long live roller derby!

 

 

For more information about New Orleans Junior Roller Derby, please check out the Crescent City Crushers on Facebook.