Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Thank a Vet

One Memorial Day a number of years ago, I wrote a post about my memories of being at Hickam Air Force Base when POWs first landed on American soil after years of North Vietnamese captivity. I don't believe I have ever witnessed more solemn and joyous occasions as those returns. I was 12. That was more than 40 years ago.

It is Veterans Day today. And, as we have for the last several years, we will go down to the Marin Civic Center to attend the ceremony honoring veterans of all kinds. Eldest will be part of the ceremony as part of his JROTC unit. At 18, in a different era, he would have been a prime candidate for going off to war. Newly minted men his age are serving now in similar dangerous situations.

It was an honor to take a couple of hours of my life years ago to greet the returning POWs. It is an honor to take a couple of hours out of my life today to honor all who have served.

Monday, November 3, 2014

A Love Letter

I think I might miss the sloppy hugs and kisses most of all. I even miss the nights of blasting Springsteen and holding the kid for hours on end, dancing in the dark, so that he would just stop crying. Just stop.

Just stop growing up is what I might say now. But I really don't mean it. Someone wrote in a blog post not that long ago about looking at her kids and seeing all of the ages and stages when she looks at them. She said it much better, of course, but I nodded knowingly.

I see him lining up his Chevron cars. I see him wearing his homemade Superman costume (underoos with the underwear worn over blue sweatpants, the Superman T-shirt and a black checkered towel as his cape). I see him as Santa Claus in the first grade play. I see him playing the guitar for the class on the last day of 3rd grade. I see him clad in a toga for a 7th grade presentation. I see him nearly lost on the first days of high school until we found the JROTC and the JROTC found him.

And I see him while we were sitting on his bed last week as I pontificated about the mid-term elections, his first. I see him nod knowingly when I impart his dad's and my philosophy on voting: no new taxes and no incumbents. I see him roll his eyes because, really, his mother is just so.

Just so.

He is 18 today and, if I may be so bold as to use a cliche, time flies. It flies and its winds whip up all that you've ever known about a person. If you're lucky, as I am today, you feel the breeze of 4 months and 3 years and 8 years and 15 and now 18.

Happy birthday, Eldest. My life is infinitely better for having had the great privilege of being your mother.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

General Population

I have three kids. One or two could be seen as advanced. One or two could be seen as average. I find nothing wrong with average. I embrace average. Nightly. Average is...normal. But folks don't necessarily see it that way. I can't take credit for any of my kids being above average. I can't take credit -- what you might call "blame" -- for any of my kids being average.



Is there a difference?

I say that one or two of my kids is in "general population" at school. You know, average. I get that the term could be seen as derogatory by those of you who aspire to only have above average kids. Go ahead, take offense, but know that you suck. You do know that, right? If there are no average kids or below average kids, then your bright shining star of a kid is nothing special. Just a kid. An average kid.

I'm not sure where I'm going with this. But I'm going. Right now? I'm going to embrace one or two average kids mixed in with the general population.

And you? You can do whatever helps you sleep at night.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Part Two

I'm a bit late in posting, of course. You can blame Verizon for that. I do.

So what happened following the coaches' complaints? Nothing. Youngest got no ref assignments last weekend. He's completely free this weekend, but I'm guessing there will be no assignments forthcoming.

Here was his response to the complaints. Can you tell he was standing right next to me while I typed it? And can you tell that kid is my kid?

This is from YOUNGEST:
1.  The back pass. The coach told the player to pass it back to the goal keeper, but when she passed it back, the keeper picked it up, and I blew my whistle. I called for an indirect free kick. She passed it to a teammate and the girl scored.
2.  First hand ball. The ball was on the goal line, but it hadn't gone out, but the girls thought that it was a goal kick. But I said "Play on." The goal keeper picked it up, then handed it to another girl. I blew my whistle and said, "No, it's not a goal kick. Play on." (I did this because they are 9-year-old girls who were confused about the ball being still in play.)
3. The final hand ball. The girl kicked it into the box and it hit a girl's hand, but I didn't blow my whistle because the ball then landed at the feet of a girl on the attacking team, who had an open goal. I played the advantage. It was easier for her to score that goal then to score a penalty. However, she missed the goal. In my opinion, that was a good call. If I she had scored and I had called it back, I bet the coach would be even more angry.
4. I can't address what my co-official might have done regarding the ball going out. My dad was there for three-quarters of the game and saw only one instance of that happening.
I was not going to say anything to you about the coach's behavior, but I did tell both my parents about his sarcastic and rude comments about my ability as a ref. I ignored his comments because it was clear to me that I know the rules of the game and that I enforced them. I'm glad he now knows what the rules are about pass backs and playing the advantage.

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.


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