Sunday, July 17, 2011

The choices we make and the ones we don't

choicesI was sitting cross legged on the floor in the skybox overlooking the gym in the high school with my forehead pressed against the Plexiglas for the second time in a week.

That night was my middle son's baseball evaluation; his older brother's had been a couple of nights prior.

The custodian said to me, "You know, So-and-so is downstairs tonight, giving a talk."

I replied, "Oh, yeah, I read about that."

"You're welcome to go down, she's in the theater right downstairs."

"Oh, thanks, but I can't. I want to watch my son bat, even though 'An Evening with So-and-so' was touted as 'a highlight of Women's History Month featuring So-and-so, host of her own series on the Travel Channel. As a strong woman of today, she will discuss her career, her travels and the strong women who have inspired her in her success.'"

I actually had to watch my son bat, just as I'd had to watch the fielding and pitching drills. He kept looking up to make sure I was watching him, whenever he was waiting his turn at each of the stations.

When the evaluations were over, we reconvened on the stairway landing: he'd headed up at the same time I'd headed down.

"How did you do, honey?"

"Okay. I missed the first two pitches."

"Yeah, I saw. But if you were in a baseball game, I bet would have got on base -- you hit the third pretty well."

"Pitching was when I was in really in my baseball zone. I felt like everyone around me was Jacoby Ellsbury and Josh Beckett."

"Yeah, I saw that, too. Well, good -- I'm so happy it's baseball season!"

"Me, too, Mom."

We walked down the stairs together and I wondered how I was going to juggle three baseball teams (majors, minors, and tee-ball). I had hoped that my older two could be on the same team, but that would mean my middle son would have to play up ("if appropriate," I had added to his registration form), because I wouldn't want to hold my older son back. I had also requested that we have one or both of the same coaches as last year ("as appropriate"). I snapped out of my reverie as I realized my son had taken off to run up and down the hallways with his younger brother and some other kids, leaving me holding his bat and glove. My oldest had remained in one place with his iPod Touch since we'd arrived.

I bumped into the custodian again who said, "Are you sure? You can just sit in the back of the auditorium -- the theater is right over here." He walked alongside me and indicated the door to the theater as well as the table with the promotional flyers about So-and-so, host of her own series on the Travel Channel.

"Maybe another time -- I've got to get my kids out of here." I would have liked to hear a strong woman of today discussing her career, her travels, and the people who have inspired her success. I was sure I could relate: I have a career and I travel, but the people who inspire my success needed to get home for dinner.

On the way home, we decided that however the teams work out, we'd accept it. We're all just so happy it's finally baseball season!

Published 7/15/11 in the Groton Landmark

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

What is normal?

[caption id="attachment_177" align="alignleft" width="300"]What is normal? What is normal?[/caption]

“Well, when kids get older they sometimes think their parents don’t know anything…” We were driving home from baseball practice and I was trying to explain to my kids why the offspring of one of my friends didn’t think a Smart Phone was a good idea.

I continued, “You know when you’re really little and you think your parents are the bestest…”

“Yeah,” my youngest interjected.

“And then when you get a little older you start to get embarrassed by them.” I paused and nudged my oldest who was in the seat next to me.

“Well, you didn’t used to act like you do now, mom.”

“Yes, I did, you just don’t remember.” I went on, “Then when you get a little older (like my friend’s kids) but not quite out on your own yet, you think your parents don’t know anything.”

No comment.

“You know that saying, ‘You can’t teach an old dog a new trick?’ ”

“Uhm, no.”

“Well, never mind. I don’t believe it anyway. It’s never too late to learn something new.”

“So, what about the phone?”

“Well, it will probably be an Android or an iPhone…buttons versus touch screen.”

Thus begun a debate about which was better amongst my kids who have neither, yet know everything there is to know on the subject.

I cut in to conclude, “Then when kids grow up and leave home and have to start doing stuff for themselves, they realize, ‘oh, maybe Mom and Dad did know a little about this or that.’ “

My youngest piped up, “I’ll never be embarrassed of you, Mom.”

“Well…don’t be so sure…”

“I swear to God, I won’t.”

“Thanks, honey.” And noted that my older two were silent.

I remembered one night at dinner not too long ago. “This family is kind of weird sometimes…” my oldest had commented. My younger two had just got up from the table and turned the volume up on the Blues CD we were listening to. We were all grooving, except my oldest.

“Every family has its quirks, I’m sure, honey.”

“No, I don’t think so,” he stated dismissively.

“Oh, c’mon, what do you think goes on behind closed doors in your friends’ houses?”

“Nothing like this – I’m sure they’re all…normal.”

“What is normal, honey?”

“You know…” he paused, searching for a definition. “Just not like this.”

“I see.” I thought back to my own childhood. All I wanted to be was “normal,” too. But what is normal, exactly? I couldn’t put it into words when I was his age, either. All I wanted to do was fit in with everyone else. You know, be myself but not stand out too much…be like other kids but still be myself…

Good thing I learned that normal is just a setting on a washing machine, and that there’s nothing wrong with who you are, even if your kids think you don’t know anything and are embarrassed by you.

But no one will see it

I set up the nativity in the back yard again this year. In the past it has been out front near the fire hydrant that is on our property, and...