Thursday, January 17, 2019

And I Missed It All. Dammit.

Yesterday, Thing Two was upset when he walked out to the parking lot after basketball practice.  Apparently some of the older boys on the team were giving him grief about his playing.  I am his mother and I love him more than anyone on earth, but I will freely admit that God love the child, basketball is not his best sport.  I'm pretty sure that he made the team only because he is nearly six feet tall in seventh grade, (I believe) the tallest kid in our tiny podunk little middle school.  To be honest, I also suspect that part of the issue is that he's still a little different, and middle schoolers in general just suck at being kind to those who aren't straight down the middle of the behavioral bell curve.  The first word in his official diagnosis is "social," after all.  He's made tremendous progress, but is he going to fit in with the "cool" athletic eighth graders at this point, especially if they pass him the ball and he misses a straightforward shot?  Nah, not so much.

So, I fire off an email to the coach right after practice to get some independent adult insight into the situation, which he has yet to answer.  (He has been responsive in the past, though.  I will give him that.)  Strike 1.  Then, of course, Murphy's Law being what it is, the kid has a basketball game today, away at the rival school.  Himself is (Murphy's Law, part 2), WAY out of town tonight, so I have to cover the night's kid detail all on my lonesome.  The plan was to get Petunia off the bus, head over to the rival school, watch the basketball game from 4-5, grab Thing Two, run home, feed all three kids, and then get Petunia to soccer training by 6:30 while leaving Thing Two at home with Thing One.  You know what they say about plans...but I'm getting ahead of myself.

Game starts.  It's UGLY.  The other team is kicking the collective butts of our A team starters, which means that basically no subbing is going on since by definition they are the best we've got.  We were down 25 or so in the third quarter and only two players had rotated into the game other than the starting five, neither of whom were Thing Two even though he often plays in A games.  (He's considered a "swing" player, meaning that he subs into A team games and starts in the very few B team games on the schedule.)  I'm having a couple of thoughts at this point: 1), maybe he really is playing badly, if the coach isn't playing him at all anymore, and 2), why the hell am I here on a busy afternoon if my kid isn't going to leave the bench?  Quickly followed by 3): Wow, the coach is visibly frustrated and snapping at the kids.  (Strike 2.)  I'm sitting two rows behind him, I hear and see it all.  I text Himself and say that all in all I'm glad Thing Two isn't playing because if they are going to get yelled at for a poor performance, at least he can't be a target if he's not in the game.  

Game ends.  We've lost, still by 25 or so.  Thing Two went into the game exactly once and played only the final two minutes and 21 seconds.  Mercifully, he didn't do too badly.  Whistle blows, kids line up for the ritual postgame handshakes, I go to grab Thing Two to leave.  Then I notice a few other parents just coming into the gym and realize, "Oh SHIT.  There must be a B game today too."  No way I can stay for it, either: I have to get Petunia home, fed and to soccer.  So, to recap, I have sat through a miserable stressful ugly hourlong game, of which my son played only the final 141 seconds, and now have no choice but to leave immediately before a game in which he will likely play a great deal, as a B team starter.  (In retrospect, probably part of the reason he didn't play much in the A game.)  After scrambling him a post-B game ride home,  I left, feeling much like I had abandoned him to the wolves.  After all, with an A team that good their B team would probably be pretty good too, and I'd already seen the coach's mood for myself.  Wasn't at all sure how he'd handle two rough losses in a row.  But I had to leave, so I left.

Run home, feed Thing One and Petunia, leave dinner for Thing Two, head to soccer.  Thing One had strict instructions that he was to text me immediately upon Thing Two's return home to let me know how the B game went.  Then I waited...and waited...and waited.  Finally, the text came in.  Those of you familiar with the texting habits of teenaged boys will not be surprised by its contents.  I quote it below, in its entirety.  


 (i.e., they won.)

Oh, another text.


Two texts, comprising a total of six symbols.  That's all I got.

So, I call home, gobsmacked that they actually won the B game but really wanting to hear how Thing Two did.  The answer floored me.  Six boards.  Nine points.  That is, he scored more than a quarter of the team's total points by himself.  And, as dawned on me belatedly, there are only two ways to score an odd number of points in a basketball game: you have to sink either a three pointer or a free throw.   Given that his position is right under the basket (and that he usually can't hit a bull in the butt with a basketball from more than fifteen feet, anyway), the three point thing was unlikely.  The kid made a FREE THROW.  His first one of the season.  Six boards. Four baskets.  And a mofoing free throw.  And I didn't see any of it because I was driving to soccer.  Bloody hell.

At least it happened.  And there was not a strike three of which I'm aware.  I'll take it.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Not The Answers He Was Expecting, I Guess

A good friend of mine called me this afternoon to relate a funny conversation he’d just had with our mutual dermatologist, a generally unflappable, slow-talking gent from Oklahoma.  For background, this guy is my usual geocaching companion, and although his hair is almost entirely grey and, as he puts it, he can eat off the seniors’ menu at Applebee’s, he’s not one to shy away from a physical challenge.

Which leads us to this afternoon, and him having the following exchange with the doctor during his regular annual checkup.

Doc: “What happened to your knees?”
Friend: “Oh, nothing major—those are just scrapes from climbing a tree.”

Doc: *prolonged pause*

Doc: “And WHY were you climbing a tree?”
Friend: “There was a geocache in it, hanging fifteen or twenty feet up.  Only way to get to it.”

Doc: *another pause*

Doc: “Well, did you get it at least?”
Friend: “Yep.”

Seems he then went on to tell the doc (who knows that we are friends) that I was waiting safely at the bottom of the tree while this was going on.  I asked if he happened to mention that later the same afternoon I crawled fifty feet each way through a dark concrete drainpipe to grab another one for us, but no. Sigh.  I carry my own weight on this team, thankyouverymuch.  Guess I’ll have to clear my name the next time I’m in for a checkup!

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

I Love My Other Boy Too

(Just to clarify, of course.)

Speaking of conversations with my sons in cars, had another interesting one last night.  It had to do with the choices you make and the consequences they bring.

In Taekwon-do, we have a hand technique called an upward block.  The actual mechanics of it aren’t important, but the key point is that it is used to change the trajectory of an incoming kick.  That’s the literal translation of the Korean.  I was reminded of that because our conversation was all about life trajectories and how we change them.

My observation so far is that for good or bad, parents set their child on a particular life course with their expectations and lifestyle, but the child has the ability to change it.  The whole thing started with a conversation about college.  I was saying to him that two of my dear friends are extremely bright, but never got beyond high school.  One is a union ironworker, and the other is a car mechanic. He asked why they hadn’t gone to college, and I explained that some families don’t care much about education.  Or don’t have the money to send a kid to college.  Or have never sent anyone to college, have no idea how getting in works and don’t necessarily think it’s that important.  You could see him trying to process that.

I pointed out to him that his father and I have done everything we could to set him up to succeed, but that from here on out it’s on him.  He can stay on his current trajectory, keep doing well in school, get a job that makes him happy and have a happy life, or he can make choices that will temporarily or permanently change it.  He could do drugs, drive while drinking, get a girl pregnant...any of that would knock him right off that curve.  I also noted that he’s already changed his own trajectory for the better once, through hard work and determination.  Three or four years ago, he came to us and said that he was tired of being pigeonholed on the B team at his old soccer club and wanted to see if he could make a better team.  That child carried a soccer ball around with him for six solid months.  Every free minute he was shooting or juggling or dribbling, but damned if he didn’t make that new team when tryout time rolled around.  His old team is struggling right now, but the new one is playing tournaments all over the country and is likely to have several players make it to college teams.

It’s all about hard work and choices.  Stay the course, or change it?

Sunday, January 6, 2019

I Love My Boy

Thing Two had an hour and a half of soccer practice, two hours of Confirmation class, and an hour of goalie training consecutively today.  Allowing for the necessary drive time in between those scattered map points, he and I left the house at 12:40 and will probably get home about 8:45 tonight.

I hate this crazy freaking schedule, I really do. And I’m just the driver; I can’t even imagine how he feels about it, although I have to say that he has been a real trouper today.  Luckily (for a variety of reasons) the Confirmation class is only one Sunday a month, not every Sunday like the soccer.

I spend a lot of time in the car in general with day-to-day stuff, but since family logistics dictate that I’m usually the parent who does the road trips with Thing One, he and I have also covered a lot of ground together.  I can think of at least seven multi-hundred mile soccer trips with him in the past couple of years.  I wouldn’t trade those for gold, believe it or not. The best conversations I have with him take place while we are sitting side-by-side in the car.  Thing Two not being quite as verbal or expressive as his brother, we tend to bond over music in the car rather than talking.  I was thinking about that on the way to goalie training, and reflecting that I’ll still take the one on one time with either of my sons whenever and however I can get it, whether or not it involves deep conversations.

And then a song came on the radio, and he commented that the singer used to be in the band Linkin Park.  Immediately followed by asking me why the former lead singer of that band would’ve committed suicide.  Screech, halt, back up the bus. What was I saying about not having deep conversations with him in the car???  Scratch that.

Oh, and speaking of him not being my talker, the woman running the CCD program asked him to read the closing prayer tonight, one he’d never seen before, from the microphone in front of a room full of people.   He read it so beautifully I almost cried.  Although he’s only 13, he has a deep voice already, and had to bend down a little bit from his 5’11” height to reach the microphone.  He has new glasses, ones that look better on his face, and he’s grown out his crew cut enough so that now you can see the dark curls against his pale skin. I know I’m prejudiced, but he is a handsome child, and he’s growing up so fast I almost can’t stand it.

Friday, January 4, 2019

You Know You Live In The Country When... leave your freshly-taken-down (formerly) live Christmas tree in your front yard by the driveway for your friend’s kid, who will come by with his pickup truck to collect it because his family’s goats love to eat them!  Definitely an eco-friendly way of getting rid of a Christmas tree.

Happy New Year, everyone!!  Good luck remembering to write “2019” on your forms and checks.  :)

Saturday, December 22, 2018


Yeah, I know I’ve been quiet again.  Christmas is a tough time of year for me.  By this point in the holiday season (this year not excluded) I’m generally more like the Grinch than any of the other characters from Christmas movies.  There are just too many “extra” things to do at this time of and baking and decorating and wrapping and cards, oh my.  Might be different if any of the regular things that need to get done would conveniently go away in December to make way for the seasonal stuff, but no...somehow lunches and dinners and laundry and cooking and errands and child transport to sporting events still need to happen, just with all the other stuff added in as well.  It gets overwhelming.  I suspect that just about every adult who is primarily responsible in his or her household for making the holiday “magic” happen feels the same way.  I was having lunch with my husband at our favorite Thai place one day this week (he was off from work) and a friend walked in.  We chatted with her for a few minutes, and while we were talking the song, “It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year” started playing in the restaurant.  My friend looked me straight in the eyes and said, “No, it isn’t.”  At least it isn’t just me.  She says she’s way more partial to Thanksgiving.

Anyway, Thing One has one of his college ID soccer camps tomorrow.  (I.e., camps for high schoolers who want to play college soccer, run by college coaches.)  Because it is the better part of three hours from home and starts at 8AM, we decided to drive up today and stay overnight.  It is now 8PM, and I’m sitting in the hotel room thinking about what went *right* today.

*Petunia and I had fun decorating Christmas cookies before Thing One and I left home.

*There was a huge wreck on the major highway between home and here that caused us to be about an hour later than intended getting up here, but since we left early, it didn’t matter.

*We weren’t IN the wreck.

*Even with the delay, we had time to walk around the (gorgeous) major well-known university near here, and the kid let me take several pics of him there without grumbling, even though he did tell me at one point that I reminded him of a Japanese tourist!  It will not surprise anyone that he also insisted that I drive him to this university’s (separate) soccer facility as well so that he could check that out too.

*Most importantly, my son is a really good kid, and I enjoy his company.  This one on one time is priceless, and the opportunity for it is dwindling.  He’s already 15 and a sophomore.  I cherish every minute I get, so I really don’t mind going on the road trips with him even if it does mean driving for hours each way and/or watching soccer in heat/snow/rain/gale force winds etc!  Tonight, as we sat in a Greek diner eating burgers and discussing why hominids arose in Africa and not anywhere else on earth (don’t ask me why, he brought up that topic!) I was struck by how fortunate a woman I am.

I just need to remind myself of that fact daily from now until the 26th!

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Don't Forget To Stop And Eat The Roses

Gary Larson's Far Side comic has always been one of my favorites, right up there with Dilbert.  This may be one of my favorite Far Side strips of all time.

My brother has been on a tough road lately.  About a year ago, a dear friend of his from college committed suicide.  Then, a few weeks ago, another dear friend died of cancer only a few months after being diagnosed.  Bearing in mind that my brother is only 41, he's having a hard time coming to grips with, as he put it, being old enough that these kinds of things happen to your friends.

He has always been a seize-the-moment kind of guy, and I know that these recent events are likely to push him even further in that direction.  You just never know what's going to happen tomorrow, after all.  I've always been more of a planner and a delayed-gratification kinda gal myself, but what's hitting me these days is how little time (relatively speaking) I have left with my kids at home.  Thing One in particular, who is already halfway through his sophomore year, taking the PSAT and thinking about colleges.  That whole days are long, years are short thing again.  We need to work on making more memories with them while they are home: life can't always be about soccer practice.  Time to eat some roses.

And I Missed It All. Dammit.

Yesterday, Thing Two was upset when he walked out to the parking lot after basketball practice.  Apparently some of the older boys on the te...