Monday, October 13, 2014

The Kid Referee

In our town, at the ripe old age of 12, you can become a referee for the youth soccer league. Die-hard soccer nut that he is, Youngest took the course, bought the uniform and gear and started working for a living. Depending on the age group, a kid his age can get as much as $25 per game. Not bad. And after he does 10 games, he gets refunded the cost of the course.

It wasn't until his 8th game -- a couple of days ago -- that he ran into a coach who clearly didn't buy into the "Positive Coaching Alliance" bullshit pedaled these days. He took exception when Youngest made a call against the team for a pass back. He got even more annoyed when Youngest let the opposing team play on following some confusion over a goal kick. And then he got most annoyed when Youngest didn't call a hand ball when the coach's team had the advantage.

He didn't get in Youngest's face. No, he took the adult way out and from the sidelines made sarcastic and rude comments about Youngest's refereeing abilities. Quietly? No, loud enough so his players could hear and so Youngest could hear.

Did I mention his team is comprised of 8- and 9-year-old girls? And that it's not competitive soccer but recreational soccer? And that the league makes all its coaches go through some rigmarole called "Positive Coaching Alliance"?

When Youngest came home Saturday after the game and told me about it, I was so pissed. I mean, pissed.

What did I do? Nothing. Because Youngest made a point of just letting the coach's comments roll off his back. He determined, you see, that the coach obviously didn't know the rules of the game. And Youngest took the mature step of just ignoring him.

The weaselly little man didn't have the guts to say something directly to Youngest after the game. Instead, he did what all fine weaselly little people do when they're upset: he wrote the head ref to complain.

To be continued...

[Photo courtesy Universal Pictures]

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Maroon is the New Black

I'm thinking of starting an organization whose sole purpose will be to pass out maroon-colored ribbons with "I'm Such a Maroon" printed on them. [Back off! Trademark pending.]

The organization might even branch out to sell maroon-colored decals to put next to the ones displaying the number of family members on the rear windows of mini-vans and other multi-passenger vehicles. I think the decals should be ribbons, too, with the same statement printed on them. The owners of the vehicles wouldn't buy the decals, of course. No one would buy them for themselves. No, the wronged among us will buy them and slap them on when the offending maroon is distracted.

Distracted by what, you wonder? I don't know, really. The one yesterday at the gas station who finished pumping her gas and then sat in her car for 78 seconds -- 78 seconds -- whilst the line of car owners waiting to pump gas themselves grew longer and longer was distracted by, um, being maroonic?

I could go put a decal on the kitchen window of the woman who called me yesterday asking about us carpooling from the dance studio one day each week. She works that day, see, and so she can't pick up her offspring. Could I bring her offspring home? "Sure, will you be bringing the girls to the studio?" I inquired. "No, I'll be at work." "Well, Fridays are toughest for me, could you bring my daughter to the studio on Fridays?" I ventured. "No, my daughter doesn't go Fridays," she replied. "So by 'carpool,' you really mean you just want me to bring your daughter home every Wednesday night," I said. "Tee-hee-hee. Yes."

What a maroon.

Or how about the local district attorney's office joining with some namby-pamby do-gooder organization to do a gun buyback program.

A toy gun buyback program. Oh, and violent video games, too. 'Cause, you know, there's overwhelming empirical evidence to support the idea that playing with toy guns or playing violent video games leads to committing heinous crimes. Not.

What a bunch of maroons.

Once I get my Etsy shop setup with the ribbons and decals, you can Pinit! and spread the word.

[H/T to my brilliant sister and her husband who have taken to using the term "What a maroon" in honor of the maroonic neighbor who drives a maroon car. It's certainly better than my usual choice of vocabulary when encountering stupid mo-fos.]

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Unprejudiced Pride

Or maybe just a little bit of prejudice.

Eldest went to Boys' State this year, beating out the likely shoo-in quarterback for the honor. He skipped more than half of our every-other-year-or-so visit to Pete's home country in order to attend. We left him whilst we tramped through the Jurassic Coast and Manchester and the Harry Potter Studio Tour outside of London, more than 5,000 miles away from him.

Rather, he left us to go spend a week in a dorm at Sacramento State with 998 other equally impressive incoming high school seniors. We encouraged it, but he really needed no encouragement. Were ever there a near-man ready to make his own way, it is that first-born son of mine. The fact that my heart breaks into teeny little pieces whenever I imagine him gone is immaterial.

Like all children, he is merely on loan to me.

Friday night, the American Legion hosted the boys and girls they had sent off to Boys' State and Girls' State. They all got up on stage and spoke of their experiences. I turned to Pete and said, "Does he know he needs to speak?" Because he hadn't mentioned it to me or his dad.

When it came his turn, I sat in stunned awe at the man at the focal point on stage. He spoke eloquently. He made jokes which induced audience laughter. He made several points that induced audience applause. He was freakin' amazing.

And while I'd really like to say, "I made that," that's not anywhere near to the truth. He is who he is. He will be who he will be.

I'm filled with an overflowing sense of pride, but not a deadly sin kind of pride.

Because, you see, I've only been borrowing him.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

My Hands Were Clenched in Fists of Rage

In fact, it's rather hard to type when your hands are clenched in fists of rage. That means I must be speaking metaphorically. "Speaking" also being metaphoric, so to speak.

We celebrate our children's triumphs and we share our children's disappointments. We try not to pat ourselves on the back (too much) when they succeed. But we seem incapable of not heaping loads of blame on ourselves when they tumble and fall. Or maybe that's just me. And when your child seems Zen-like in accepting the disappointment, the more it seems to eat at you. Or maybe that's just me.

It really is for the best that the child of mine experienced this disappointment. If it had turned out the other way, that child of mine, in the long run, would have felt the continual pain of being excluded while part of a group. Better to be excluded from the group to begin with than feel the sting of rejection time and again.

While we all know that to be true, that knowledge has nary an effect on those fists of mine.

That is all. It is mighty hard to type.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Teeth of Wisdom

He was just six weeks old when I trudged back to work. I left him with a woman who would later become his and Daughter's "real" mother. I lucked out on that score.

Why only six weeks with him? Because I went to work for a company when I was nearly five months pregnant, so I didn't score the three month's maternity leave. But why not eight weeks of disability due all 'Murica mothers when they have a C-section? Because I promised I'd be back after six. And it was Christmas time, and my new colleagues had plans.

So back I went. And, within days, he caught a cold. So young with those symptoms, that the nurse advised bringing him in to make sure it wasn't something else. And it wasn't something else. It was just a cold. But that doesn't mean I didn't sick-out the next two days to stay home with the most precious cargo I've ever carried.


Tomorrow, that 17-year-old strapping Eldest of mine gets his wisdom teeth pulled. We're all prepared with pills and soft foods and murmurings of encouragement. He'll be fine.

But I'll be there. He won't know I'm there, really. But I will.


There is no point to this post beyond the fact that be him aged six weeks or 17 years of, FSM-willing, 26 years, I will be there.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

"Are You Sitting Down?"

Pete asked. So, of course, having been sitting down, I stood up at my desk.

It was awful news. Sometime yesterday afternoon, when the kids were in school and Pete and I were in Seattle and our neighbors were all at work, including Harry's wife, Harry went into the backyard and killed himself.


He walks miles and miles each day around the neighborhood, two huge miles-long laps in the morning and two huge miles-long laps in the afternoon. He wears the same clothes and hat each time, clad all in blue, and he walks no matter the weather. Thin and tall, of course, what with all that walking and a vegan for a wife. For years, I'd see him around, and I'd wave, but he very rarely looked up. For years, I'm sure, even if he had looked up, he would not have returned the wave.


Five years into our living a stone's throw away from him, I quit my working gig and was around far more each and every day. But it took that wonder mutt dog of ours, the one who came into our lives as soon as I quit, to break the ice. He is definitely not a dog person, but his wife is most assuredly. And with the thaw with his wife came the thaw with Harry. And while never one to chit-chat with me, he'll come upon me and the kid and the dog or me and the wife and the dog, and he'll talk about books he'd read and science and math and his environmental work and, maybe, like everyone else in the neighborhood, good ole Crazy Ed around the block.


Now nearly 13 years have passed since first I laid eyes on them, and I really don't know him much better than the first time I waved to a non-response in return. I know his wife far better, and she is someone who likes my kids and loves my dog and tolerates that damn cat of ours who loves nothing better to sun herself under their bird feeders. And Harry? That not-really-a-dog-kind-of-guy? He pets the dog from time to time. And he chats with me about topics I know so little about. And he waves on his walks every time he sees me now.


I don't know his story. It isn't my story. It is Harry's story. And he's taken it with him. And that makes me sad.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Pay to Volunteer

It was a little request, really, as far as requests go. "I need three parents to chaperone my sixth grade class on a field trip to Chinatown." The reason I immediately raised my hand? The field trip includes dim sum. My friends know how much I love dim sum. Even people who hate me -- or at least those who hate me and know me -- know that I love me my dim sum.

So, yeah, sure, why not, I got nothin' better to do on a Monday than ride a bus with 60+ changelings. So signed up, I did.

And then? After thanking me for volunteering, the teacher continued with "I have just discovered that because the PTA is covering all of the student's [SIC] [AND SHE'S AN ENGLISH TEACHER] payment for this trip, we do not have enough to cover chaperones as well. The trip (including the bus to and from SF, lunch and the tour) is $20. I would appreciate if you could send that with CHILDREN if possible before the end of the week. If you are not able to pay, let me know so we can figure something out so you can still come."

Really? I have to pay for the privilege of enabling the kids to go on a field trip? Am I a PTA member? Yup. Do I donate beyond the basic PTA membership? Yup. Do I give my time to the school as a whole and even, doh-head that I am, do the student directory each fall? Yup.

But let me also give you $20 for the privilege of helping not just my kid but 29 other kids in his class and 30 other kids in another class.

I'm just going to consider this one of those pay-to-play auction items drunken moms and dads commit to at the big school fundraiser each year. And, yeah, I'm going to claim it as a tax deduction.

And eat more than $40 worth of dim sum.


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