Saturday, October 31, 2009

Something in the Air

I have heard many legends of crazed parents coming out of the woodwork at children's sporting events. You know the ones...those who scream and shout and insult and seem to ache for a confrontation with someone, anyone. Yet, I have never really seen any of these parents in action. Until today. And today, they were out in spades. Maybe it was because it is Halloween. Or, maybe we just ran into everyone in the valley who happened to be in a bad mood. Whatever it was, it made for spicy sporting events!

It started at Julia's soccer game this morning. It began as a nice game, from our team's perspective, anyway. We were winning, 7-0 when a girl on the other team started shoving our girls. I don't mean pushing them casually during play. I mean really shoving them whenever they got near her to guard her, whether the ball was in her vicinity or not. At first there were just a few "hey!" type comments from our parents, and the assistant coach asked her, very nicely, to please stop pushing. It persisted until our coach asked her coach to remove her from the game. This request caused the other team's coach to come unglued (apparently, it was her daughter). She was not at all happy with the score and began blaming our coaches for not telling our girls to back off and let them have some goals. Seriously? This is a competitive sport, is it not?!

Things devolved extremely quickly. When the other team's coach refused to remove her daughter from the game (or even correct her) our coach eventually called the game, refusing to allow play to continue under those conditions. A literal swarm of parents came and physically confronted our coach and her husband. I, who never get involved in anything like this, actually stepped in the middle and was one of several parents pulling them apart. One mom was saying, "How dare you talk to our players!" as if we should really, truly not say anything when one of their players was physically assaulting our players. Truly unbelieveable.

However, I, who am not nearly as much of a soccer fan as I am a football fan, found this to be one of the most interesting, engaging soccer games I have ever attended, so I guess every situation has it's positive points.

This spirit of confrontation followed us to Joey's football game where it was my very own husband who found himself in the middle of an altercation. Jay counts plays for Joey's team and usually watches the game from the other team's sideline, where he is most often stationed. His job is to make sure that the other team is honest about how many plays each team member logs during a game, to be sure every player is played at least 10 plays. He has done this job many times and has never had a problem (although he has often reported how lucky we are in our coaching staff relative to the mess that are some other teams in our league).

As he always does, Jay was cheering for Joey when he made some especially good pops. The opposing team's coaches told Jay to shut up and accused him of "coaching" Joey from the sidelines. He was absolutely not doing that, just cheering and encouraging him to block his man, so he gave those coaches a little feedback that let them know in no uncertain terms that it was his right and duty to cheer for his own kid and that he was going to continue to do so. Three very large coaches pushed him back and started screaming at him. Jay held his ground and ultimately told them to count their own plays, returning to our side. After a brief investigation by the president of the league, Jay was well supported. Even the other team's team mom said that Jay was not the problem, that he had been nice the whole time. Nevertheless, he wisely remained on our side for the rest of the game. In what I thought to be a totally classy move on his part, Jay made of point of shaking hands with the worst offender coach after the game when he passed him in the parking lot.

What on earth is going on here? Should we not cheer for our children, no matter where in the field we are? Should we not demand that players play fair and follow rules of conduct for a game? There are bullies everywhere who will run you over if you don't stand your ground.

And it seems we ran into every one of them today.

(And, by the way, this ends regular season play for our boys. Joey's team is undefeated with a bye for the first week of playoffs and Sam's team has just one loss. Playoffs, here we come!)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

My Daily Dose of Reality

Tony ( while hugging me): You're the best mom EVER!

Me (all excited): Really?

Tony: Well, actually, there are some that are better than you, but you are better than some others.

Thanks, Tony, for keeping it real.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Not Too Shabby

Lindsey's cheer squad took second place in today's cheerleading competition. It was really, really close between her team and the squad that won...I'm glad I wasn't judging it because they were both so good!

I think Lindsey's routine was a little tighter (more in sync), but the Highland squad had four really good tumblers (as opposed to one on Lindsey's team) so that part was quite impressive. At any rate, it was my first cheer competition and, all in all, pretty fun to watch. I especially enjoyed seeing the boys from the teams hand out roses to the girls after competition (including Joey and Sam). They practically ran eachother over to get to the girl each preferred to give a rose to.

Last night we hosted the pre-competition hair party for the girls and, my goodness, was that a scene! 12 giggling, screaming girls getting curlers in place with Joey and Sam looking like they couldn't quite believe their own good fortune to have a house full of cheerleaders. Joey actually asked if he could invite his team over in order to increase his social capital (not in so many words, but you get the idea...).

It was definitely nice to see Lindsey, who often feels overshadowed by the football players, have her day in the sun...and, boy, did she shine.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Another of Life's "Good News-Bad News" Situations

Well, my washing machine is broken. Again.

It has served me well over the last 10 years, washing on average 12-15 loads per week. It was visited by the repair man several months ago, and has been on borrowed time ever since. So, as it wheezed its last gasp yesterday, I decided to officially take it off of life support and say goodbye.

This was much easier than it sounds.

In fact, it was with a light heart and a skip in my step that I raced off to choose a new washing machine, knowing with certainty that it really was a necessary purchase and not at all premature. It is a sad testament to how much of my time is spent in the laundry room that I actually relished searching through the feature sets and price points, narrowing my choices according to my washing needs. It is a reflection of my reality that I made my choice in less than 20 minutes, came home and read all the reviews, prices and comparisons, and then went back two hours later to seal the deal. In the laundry arena, I have no time to waste with indecision. The purchase was made about 6 hours after the machine went down, and those of you who know me well know that I like to take days to weeks to make a decision like this!

At any rate, I can't wait to greet my new machine on Thursday. In the meantime, I actually get a few days off from laundry (thank goodness I was caught up when it went down, or I'd be in trouble!).

What shall I do with all my spare time?!!

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Working Girl

For the first time in 10 years, I am earning and contributing some money to our household! Granted, it is a very nominal amount but, even so, it feels great.

Regular cantors at our church are paid a modest stipend, and I am singing nearly every Sunday now...hence the paycheck. I never would have thought I could earn money for doing something I love so much.

I suppose as time goes by, the hours of preparation and extra masses I attend may begin to feel more like work, but for now I am in the happy position of doing something I love and calling it a job.

As I was doing my "job" this morning at the 6:45 am mass (OK, maybe I SHOULD be paid for getting up that early) I had the pleasure of seeing the morning sun break through the stained glass window and cast its rays right on the altar. As I "worked", I experienced the joy of serving alongside my daughter, who served as the book bearer for the mass (OK, maybe I should be paid for getting HER up that early!).

How tedious could work be that requires you to proclaim the word of God in song? That forces you to listen to different priests reflect in totally unique and inspiring ways on the same gospel? That allows you to sit peacefully for stretches just outside of the tabernacle?

Nope, it's not too tough at all.

(Don't tell them, but I would totally do it for free.)

Friday, October 02, 2009

Bursting With Pride

Those of you who are easily nauseated should skip this post, for I am going to shamelessly boast about my eldest child.

For a number of years, Joey had a difficult time in school (with academics, never behavior). In addition, he had trouble finding an extracurricular activity that he had a knack for. These things combined seriously shook his self-confidence and resulted in Jay and I being very worried about him.

Everything is different now, and I am so grateful.

This morning, I attended a sixth grade awards assembly at Joey's school where he was selected as the first "Student of the Month" for his class of 32. There is only one per month so it is not an honor everyone receives during the year, by any means.

Last year Joey also made student of the month (twice, actually) but was selected by his resource teacher, not his regular classroom teacher. Today's recognition was what he had been hoping for, to be chosen by his primary teacher.

Listening to her talk about why she chose Joey, I heard her describing the child every parent dreams of. Consistently works hard in school, is always pleasant and willing, tries again when he doesn't get something right the first time. To frost my cake, Joey's other teacher (they switch between two classes in sixth grade to prepare them for Jr. High) came up to Jay and I after the assembly and said that she, too, would have chosen Joey if he had been in her homeroom. She echoed the sentiments of his primary teacher...and she is his language arts teacher, his weakest subject!

Two or three years ago Jay and I would have paid anything, made any sacrifice, to have a conversation like that with his teacher, yet today we had it.

On the extracurricular front, Joey has also made amazing progress. This week, he got "promoted" to the higher offense in football in recognition of his great personal improvement over this first half of the season. He is hitting hard and making his blocks more and more consistently. He is now playing defense too, where his job is to sack the quarterback. Yesterday, to his utter surprise, he actually reached him for the first time (against the best offense in the league). It was clear to everyone that it would be the first of many for him. He also, for the first time, got to play QB for a few snaps yesterday. He was so jazzed. That would not have happened a year ago.

Further, we are coming into snowboarding season, the sport where Joey was naturally gifted from his very first run down the mountain. With all his new gear (gratis from the wonderful 686 company) he is going to be a sight. I am so glad for him.

None of this success would mean a thing to us if he weren't also a really great person. He has a good conscience and is reliable. He is funny and fun to be with. I trust him.

How blessed we are to see our child, after many prayers, transform into all we knew he could be. There is no greater joy than witnessing your child, especially one who has struggled so, experience success born from hard work.

Yes, it is a good time for his parents.

P.S. The other kids are doing really well too! More on them another time...