Friday, June 22, 2018

Time In A Bottle

Okay, time can slow down now, please.

When I was a kid, I remember my mother saying that the days were long but the years were short.  I didn’t understand then, but dear god, do I understand now.

No more elementary schoolers in the house anymore.  Petunia will be in sixth grade next year, Thing Two in seventh.  And worst of all for this mama’s heart, Thing One in tenth.  Sophomore year already.  How did we get here so quickly?  Answer: one long day and short year at a time, I guess.

Thing One is going to a couple of soccer camps this summer.  They are called ID Camps...the idea is that multiple college coaches get together and offer one camp at one college so that kids who are potentially interested in attending/playing at a subset of those colleges can meet a bunch of coaches at once.  I’m struggling with this, partially because it means that in order to pick camps, he has to think about where he’d like to go to college already.  He has to make up the biography that players give to potential coaches.  And since these are sleepaway camps, one five or six hours away in another state, I am finding myself doing the same shopping that friends with college-bound recent graduates are doing right now: XL-sized twin bedding, towels, fans for unairconditioned dorm rooms, laundry bags and quarters and detergent.  I am so not ready for this.  I don’t care HOW big the kid is, he’s still my baby.  I will let him go, and I will try to smile about it, but that’s all I can promise right now.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

School Logic

Yes, I’m still alive. All is pretty well,’s just been crazy, and now it’s been so long since I posted that it seems like whatever goes up next should be of major significance!  This really isn’t, but no better time than the present to get back on the horse, so I’m going with it. 

Thing One is finishing up his freshman year of high school (yikes.)  With this comes finals, and with that, the final for his math class.  Mercifully, Himself has been able to keep up with the curriculum and work with him where he needed help with it at home so far.  I also got well past what he’s currently studying back in the Stone Age sometime (think the last math class I took was in 1992 or 1993) but I have no desire whatsoever to relearn it all now, and am beyond grateful that I don’t have to!  Anyway, this is review week in class, but due to unfortunate family circumstances, his math teacher is out on leave.  His class has a sub who has some basic math skills, but is essentially there just to maintain order.  The kids are supposed to be working on the review material on their own. 

I asked him what happens when somebody has a question.  I was told (which utterly floored me) that they are supposed to go out into the hall and ask the hall monitor, who is actually a math teacher.  

I didn’t even bother to ask him the obvious question: i.e., why the hell the math teacher isn’t subbing for the math class as opposed to sitting in the hall making sure nobody does drugs in the bathroom or randomly wanders the halls or whatever it is hall monitors do in large public high schools these days.  

I strongly suspect that the answer has something to do with union regulations.  I’d love to hear from anyone who has had a positive experience with any major teachers’ union, but the one here seems to have elevated the pursuit of mediocrity to an art form.  

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Rough Around The Edges But A Heart Of Marshmallow

Thing One and Petunia share a soccer coach.  To say that he is blunt would be an understatement of epic proportions: he's one of those inherently loud Northeasterners (originally from the NYC area, I would guess, based on his choices in sports teams) who speaks his mind in no uncertain terms and often in profanity-laden ones, depending on his audience.  Having seen the man coach teenaged boys first, I was more than a little dubious about how that would translate to my ten year-old daughter, but fortunately he is able to filter himself around the girls.  As a coach, he is a yeller, albeit one every bit as quick to yell praise as criticism.  Petunia was terrified of him until she got used to his decibel level, but her first choice for next year is his team, if that tells you anything about the turnaround in her opinion of him.

Anyway, this evening there was a tryout for his team.  I was running back and forth between three fields between the three kids, so I didn't get to watch as much of the tryout as I would have liked, but Petunia seemed to be doing an awful lot of sitting on the sideline and was looking rather forlorn as a result.  After a while, he called her over to him and they had one of those conversations between a coach and a player that you sometimes see on the sidelines of a televised football game, where the coach is holding a clipboard in front of his face so you can't read his lips.  After a minute or two, she nodded and then he told her to grab a pinney and sent her into the game.  I asked her about that in the car on the way home.  She said that he called her over to reassure her that she wasn't playing much because they already knew that she was going to make the team and there were other players he needed to look at more.  Clearly he understands how hard she is on herself, and he both noticed her mood and took the time to make her feel better in the middle of a busy tryout.

Strangely enough, he had a very similar interaction with Thing One last weekend, adjusted for age and gender.  Thing One is one of those kids who takes his job on the field very seriously.  Whenever he's pulled out of a game, if there's any question at all about it, the first thing he does is ask the coach if he did something wrong.  It's actually become kind of a running joke with the coaches although they do legitimately appreciate that he's asking because he wants to get it right the next time.  The boys had two games last weekend, a regular league game on Saturday and a huge State Cup game on Sunday.  Before the Saturday game, the coaches told the boys that they were trying to figure out a way to win the game while resting the starters as much as possible for Sunday, so they should be expecting some odd assignments on the field.  Thing One was one of the boys told to expect to sit more than usual.  He played most of the first half and came out just before halftime.  He didn't go back in after halftime, and seemed ok until every other boy sitting out at the time was sent back in other than him, at which point he actually started pacing up and down the sideline.

As he recounted the conversation afterward, around then this coach asked what in the world he was doing, and he asked if he was going to get back into the game.  The coach looked at him and said, "I already told you that you were going to sit more than usual today.  When there's a big game, you play every damned minute of it because we need you in there, and you know it as well as I do.  Now sit your &%$&% ass down on that bench and &%#$& REST!"

Clearly, his internal marshmallow takes different forms with ten year-old girls and fourteen year-old boys, but no doubt it's there in both cases.  The man cares deeply about the kids he coaches and both of my kids are fortunate to have him training them.  My daughter is also fortunate that he has that filter!

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Yeah, I Guess A Few Things Have Changed

2018: My son's high school has a strict no-tolerance, no exception drug and alcohol policy.  This includes nicotine (vaped or otherwise.)

Late 1980s: My high school had a smoking lounge, and most of the kids drank alcohol well before the legal age in the US, but then again, we were outside the US.  It wasn't something we officially talked about at school, though.

Mid 1970s: See picture below, taken today of the "Class Favorites" page of a high school yearbook.  Sorry, I know it's a bit hard to read.  Aside from the clearly dated choices in musicians and actors, holy cow: do you see that their favorite brands of cigarettes (Marlboro) and beer (Heineken) are listed?  And that their favorite mixed drink was 7&7??

It also cracks me up that their favorite athlete was OJ Simpson.  Talk about a time capsule!

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

I Don’t See This Ending Well

A girlfriend of mine recently told me that her son was being bullied at school.  Today, she announced on Facebook that she will be homeschooling him, which is an understandable reaction, except that she both misspelled “homeschooling” and capitalized “Son” in the middle of the sentence.  I don’t mean to be unkind, I really don’t, but given that the kid is in elementary school, I hope she is either going to use a textbook or some sort of online resource to teach him Language Arts.  And much more importantly, how awful is it that a kid in this age of bullying laws could still be harassed so badly at school that his mother feels it necessary to pull him completely out of school??

Monday, April 16, 2018


We found out last night that the pink socks of ferociousness came through yet again for Petunia.  She made the soccer team that the player development coach of our current club recommended that she look at. (See this post)  Since we don’t know much about the team other than that it comes recommended by a man whom we trust and respect, we’ve requested permission to bring her to a practice of theirs before we make a decision.  We shall see.  She had two games yesterday, one with each of the two teams for which she currently plays, and had excellent games in both, so it seems that things are starting to come together for her.  The difficulty will be choosing what is best for her, bearing in mind that the major objectives are that she have fun and play on a competitive team that will allow her to grow her skills, in that order.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Way More Than Just A Little Help

Himself is out of town again. Murphy’s Law being what it is, my kids have four soccer games between them today, in three different places. And in cold rain, too. Ugh.

I needed help getting Thing One from point A to point B for his game and put out an email message to his team last night to see if anyone could give him a ride. I got SIX responses, including several from people who would have to drive significantly out of their way to do it but offered anyway because they are kind souls.  I love this team. He’s staying on it as long as they’ll have him.

Whomever said that it takes a village to raise a child clearly had kids who are travel athletes. Boy, am I grateful for my village!!

Time In A Bottle

Okay, time can slow down now, please. When I was a kid, I remember my mother saying that the days were long but the years were short.  I d...