Category Archives: school

Hey Mom, can you buy me a case of beer?

20120920_KidsBoozehttp://www.bluntmoms.com/hey-mom-can-you-buy-me-a-case-of-beer/

Here is my latest article that was featured on BluntMoms this week. This is certainly a hot topic amongst my peers. We all think when our little ones are cute-as-a-button five or six year olds that we are going to answer this question with a loud no, but as your little cutie grows and morphs into a teenager, life becomes, well, complicated….

I was at a party the other night when one of the parents got a text from her seventeen-year-old son. Could he have friends over? Yes, she said. Can the friends sleep over? Sure, she said. Would she mind stopping on the way home and picking them up a case of beer? Wait, what?

When I was a teenager I NEVER would have been brave enough, or stupid enough, to ask my parents to buy me a case of beer because the response would have been, “What the hell is wrong with you?” followed by a quick slap upside the head. Oh no, back in the good old days of the 1980’s we didn’t ask our parents for help with breaking the law, we just did it. We stole liquor from their cabinet, ran deep into the woods and drank ourselves silly. Then, fueled by alcohol and the thrill of getting away with something absolutely forbidden, we would laugh, smoke, and generally make fools of ourselves before stumbling home, sneaking upstairs and passing out in our beds.

Once in while someone’s mom would still be up watching a late night episode of Cheers only to see the front door creak open and her son stumble in, or a missing bottle of Scotch would be found carefully hidden under a pile of Madonna albums in a daughter’s bedroom. And once in awhile bad things would happen, and everyone would shake their heads and mutter “too bad” before going back to the unspoken arrangement between teenagers and adults of “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

Apparently the rules are different in the 21st century. In this age of now over involved, helicopter-parenting, teenagers are not only telling their parents when they are drinking but they are even asking them to buy them the liquor! This new arrangement has set up a quandary for all of us parents who grew up under the old “don’t ask, don’t tell” rule.

What do we do?

Do we say, ok, yes we will buy you beer because we don’t agree with the stupid legal age of 21 anyways?

Do we allow them to drink because in a year or two year they are all going to college where there will be lots of drinking, so they might as well do it at home first because somehow this “teaches” them how to drink responsibly?

Do we say, well, if they are going to just go into the woods and get drunk and god-forbid perhaps drive home, we might as well let them drink in our basement where at least we can supervise them and keep them safe. Don’t worry we will collect all the keys and make sure no one leaves. Ok, that sounds like a half reasonable plan, so… then what, do we do we call all the other the parents first and ask their permission? Or do we just assume it’s ok for someone else’s underage child to have alcohol?

Do we set a limit: three, four beers per child? Or do we watch as someone’s child does shots of tequila, drinks him/herself into oblivion, throws up and passes out on our couch? Do we call 911? Do we sit down in the middle of the group and teach them all of the old drinking games we use to play? Or do we leave them downstairs alone to figure it out, while we go upstairs for a mature glass of Cabernet? By saying yes, do we actually think we have some sort of control over their actions? That bad things won’t happen? That kids won’t make foolish choices when drinking?

Before my friend responded to this last text, we sat and had a long conversation about all of these questions and at some point we found ourselves laughing and and shaking our heads saying, “What the hell is wrong with kids these days? Why can’t they just leave us out of it? Why can’t they just steal, sneak and lie like we did! It sure would be a lot easier, wouldn’t it?

Finally she gave her son her answer and said her goodbye to me, and I was left wondering… what would I do?

About the author: Anne Sawan is a psychologist, writer and mother to five wonderfully aggravating children. Her work has been published on Brain-Child, Scary Mommy, Adoptive Families and BluntMoms. She also has several picture books on MeeGenuis and a new book book, What Can Your Grandmother Do? Is scheduled to come out this year through Clavis Publishing. You can find out more on her website.

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The Playground

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As the weather improves I have been frequenting the playground with my youngest daughter and every time I am there I see parents chatting away on their phones as their kids play and I think to myself, “I wish there was a No Cellphone sign here.” One of those signs hanging on the fence with a picture of a cell phone on it and a big black X through it. Perhaps just a gentle reminder to all of us to hang up and play, run around, be silly.

It seems to me that cellphones have taken over our lives!  We can’t seem to be without one for five minutes and it really is so ridiculous. I know it is hard to believe but I survived a good portion of my life without a cell phone and whats-more my parents never had a cell phone and they not only survived but they managed to raise twelve fairly normal kids! How did they do that?

Believe me, I am not lecturing, I am just as bad as the next person. If I am in my car (or on the playground) and suddenly realize I don’t have my cell phone my heart rate skyrockets. Oh no! What if someone is trying to reach me and I’m not available?! What if there’s an emergency? What if my son stubs his toe at school or my oldest forgot her homework, or my friend calls to tell me about some juicy gossip from the book club that I missed? Breathe, breathe. How far away am I ? Should I go back and get it?

Okay, seriously, how many true emergencies happen to you in one day? Or one week? Unless you’re a brain surgeon or the CEO of Google do you really need to be available at all times to everybody?

I sort of miss the days of going to the playground B.C. (before cell phones) because back then, any news, any “emergency”, any gossip would just need to wait. I simply wasn’t available. I was busy. At the playground. With my kids.

THE PLAYGROUND

You said, “Let’s go to the playground today.

We’ll spend some time together and have fun while we play.”

“Yippee!” I yelled, “I know just what we’ll do!”

And I ran to get my sweatshirt and find my left shoe.

First, we’ll swing high on the swings and go down the big slide,

then hang down from the bars and play “you search while I hide.”

“Hello? Where are you?”  You will say with a smile,

(Knowing exactly where I am, all of the while).

Then we’ll look up at the clouds and see funny things,

like a rabbit with pajamas and a bear that can sing.

We’ll dig holes in the sandbox and pour sand in the trucks,

then walk down to the pond and feed bread to the ducks.

But when we got to the park I knew it wasn’t to be,

because the first thing you did… was sit under the tree.

“Go and play.”  You said, “I’ll just make one quick call.

It won’t take but a moment, really, no time at all.”

So, I tried a few cartwheels and a front forward roll

went to the sandbox and dug a huge hole.

I called, “Look at this!” to you as you sat,

but you just turned away, caught up in your chat.

You sat over there yakking away on your phone

leaving me to play, by myself… all-alone.

So, I glanced up to the sky but saw nothing there,

no silly cloud animals, just blank, empty air.

I climbed the tall climber and tried out a new trick,

then I sat on the swing and gave a few little kicks.

And after a while you yelled, “Com’on! Time to go!”

and I walked to the car; my head down, my feet slow.

And as you buckled me in, you said, “Oh, what a great day!

I’m so glad that we came to the playground to play.

Wasn’t it fun, but, boy, it went by real fast,

I wish I could find a way to make these special days last…”

Anne Sawan 2013

When He Was Small

It must be the graduations, the birthdays, the moving-ons that are swirling around me lately…for whatever reason, I am feeling nostalgic. I look at my kids and I think, “Stop! This is all going by wwaaayy to fast!” I look at my younger ones and I want to take a picture of every, single, ridiculous little moment so I can remember it all. And I look at the older ones and think, “Where did it go?” And… “Why didn’t I put all the old photos of their ridiculous little moments into nice, neat albums like I always said I would?”

I see them all growing, getting taller, bigger, moving onward. Struggling sometimes with figuring out how to become themselves, and it is hard to watch this bumpy journey.  Hard to know that there are some things I could help them with, if only they would let me, and some things I cannot …even if they ask.

One of my children is about to enter into that magical land we call middle school, and one is just leaving (Thank God!). My mother always said that she thought fifth grade, the grade before middle school, was really the last true year of childhood and as usual, she is right. It is the last chance.  The last chance we all have just to be kids. Just silly, playful, carefree children before all the social pressures and hormones of adolescence kick in.  Before the toys and imaginations are put away to gather dust in the corner as these once happy-go-lucky youth begin to worry about things like fitting in and pimples and wayward hair. Before they all start struggling to cross over that treacherous divide, that bumpy road, that long bridge into adulthood.

I’ve noticed that the girls usually seem quite eager to cross this bridge.  They just prance on over, all excited and proud…many sadly making the journey before they are ready, a false sense of maturity driving them onward, but the boys…well I think they tend to stand in the middle, one leg boldly planted on either side jeering at old father (and mother) time, “Oh yeah! I am the king of this bridge and I dare you to try and make me cross over! Come’ on, I dare ya!” (And this type of inflated bravado never really goes away, does it…)

One of my children has a birthday this week. Another year marked on the calendar, another foot towards maturity. I wrote this piece below about him, about saying goodbye to childhood.  It’s all-true, and shhhh… if you see him around say Happy Birthday but DON’T tell him you read this! It’s too sloppy and gloppy for a man-boy who is standing with one leg firmly planted on either side of the bridge scoffing at the world, “Come-on I dare ya!”

When He Was Small…

When he was small, he would ask me to sleep with him every night.

“Please sleep with me Mom.”

And most nights I would. I would snuggle in next to him, feeling his small body pressed against mine, an arm thrown across my neck as he burrowed in so close our noses would touch, his breath minty and sweet against my cheek, his hair still damp and fresh from the bath. He would whisper his dreams and silly rhymes in my ear as the room slowly darkened, a gently stillness seeping in, his chest rising and falling in time with the soft whir of the overhead fan and all thoughts of the piles of laundry that needed to be washed, the already late bills to pay, the sticky dinner dishes that should be rinsed floated sleepily, gratefully, away as I lay with my arms around my child, both of us drifting into sweet, sweet slumber.

And some nights I wouldn’t.  On those long, hard days when I just needed some space to think, wanting some peace and solitude to collect my thoughts and mull over the day. Those nights when I all I could dream about was a soft chair, a cup of hot tea and a good book, or a piece of the couch, a mindless television show and a glass of wine.

“No, not tonight. I am busy. I don’t have the time. ” I would say impatiently.

On those nights there would be tears and pleading; “Can I just have a  glass of water… maybe one more…can you turn on the light in the hall…open the door just a little…now it’s too bright…please can’t you lie down here…just a few minutes”…and then, finally, thankfully, he would fall sleep, alone.

Those days of asking are gone now.

Gone.

Funny, I remember the last time he asked.

The asking had slowed down, becoming more sporadic over the years as he grew, separating from me, as he needed to, but still, occasionally… after a scary movie, a hard day at school, a lost baseball game, he would ask… and I might.

Then came the dark, dismal, cloudy days of preteen rolled eyes, low mutterings, and out right defiance; days of arguing, yelling and talking back. He came to me after one of those long days; one of those days that left me still seething hours later from his insolence, the bitter taste of disrespect rolling around my mouth, the heavy buzz of his surliness ringing in my ears.

“Can you lie down with me for a few minutes?” He mumbled, his eyes shifting first to the window, then to the ceiling and down to the floor.

“What!” Anger boiled, bubbling and popping inside my chest. I was too annoyed to care that this humble asking was his best apology. To angry to see that this might be the time he needed me the most. I snapped and snarled,  “No! I’m busy! I don’t have the time for that! Go to bed!” dismissing him with a dark glare and a wave of my arm.

He shuffled out, shoulders slumped and I sat, by myself, pretending to look at my book.

Minutes went by. The clock on the wall steadily ticking out the beat of time… passing… I heard him turning in his bed, but… he never called out. Never asked for water or a nightlight.  Never pleaded for me to open the door just a crack … and the dull space that had started in my head slowly wormed its way down to my heart and landed with a heavy thud in my stomach. The silence of the night surrounded me, and in the quiet, sliding through the anger, I heard a soft whisper.

Not much more time.

I put down my book, shut my eyes and listened to the gentle hum, the quiet warning.

Not much more time.

And alone, in the darkness, I remembered.  I remembered the little boy who dragged his yellow dump truck all over the house carefully putting it next to him on his pillow at night as he pulled up the covers.  The one that had me read the same dinosaur book over and over until we both could name and identify the eating habits of each creature.  The one that held tightly to my hand as we crossed the street, readily sharing his vanilla ice cream and always saving the very tip of the sugar cone for me. The one that showed me the joy of finding worms in the rain and how to collect baseball cards and tried to teach me to like roller coasters.  The one that snuggled next to me, his chubby hands on either side of my face as he whispered about what he wanted to be when he grew up; a baseball player, a rock star, a paleontologist, a dad.

Not much more time.

I walked across the hallway, over the dimly lit space that separated us, and stood near him.

“Hey,” I whispered. “Move over.”

I climbed in next to his awkward almost adolescent body, the faint smell of sweat surrounding him but…this time…there was no hand thrown across my neck, no noses pushed together or silly whispers in my ear, instead he moved away, turning to the wall… and we slept in uneasy silence, our backs pressed together.

And that was the last time. The last time he was small ….and the last time he asked….

Why I wish I could be four again…

When I was little I had many, many great teachers (and a few not so great ones). My first grade teacher, Mrs. Caruso was one of the greats. This woman was loving, caring and generous.  I could hardly wait to go to school and sit at my desk, pencil in hand, heart pounding, wondering what new thing she would teach us, what new contest she would invent. The reading contest is still one of my favorite memories. For every book we read our parents would fill out a flower petal to add to our paper flower at school.  Soon a colorful, construction paper flower garden was springing up all around the classroom. At the end of the year Mrs. Caruso laid out a table full of treasures (little did I know that the treats was actually toys she had purchased with her own money at various garage sales). The person with the most flower petals got to go up to the table and choose their toy first, followed by the second, the third etc. What a great day that was!

Mrs. Caruso would also occasionally call me up to her desk, quietly winking and slipping me a note. Inside the note it would say, “Tell your mom I am going to buy you hot lunch tomorrow.”  Now maybe to you this is not a big deal but to me, the fifth child in a family of twelve children, (well at that time there may have been only eight or nine of us) hot lunch was for rich kids. Oh, to be able to buy chicken and French fries, and sit at the hot lunch table! (Yes, back then there was the cold lunch table and the hot lunch table. Classism at its best!) Mrs. Caruso would also occasionally ask me to stay after school, and then give me a ride home, bags of toys and clothes stuffed in the back seat for us. She would invite my family, all of us, over to her house in the summer, where we would drink lemonade, stare at her white sofa and wonder at her koi fish in the back yard.  Mrs. Caruso clearly knew that my family was struggling, that there were a lot of kids and maybe not always enough money for the extras that everyone else around us seemed to have. She went out of her way to make me feel special and smart, praising me, telling me what a great reader I was, how creative my stories were. I didn’t always feel smart, certainly not in third grade and not through all of junior high, but in first grade, I was smart, and loved. I loved her.

Years later my mother told me that Mrs. Caruso started off every parent teacher conference with lots of sweetness, something like, “I love so and so. She is a wonderful child! So smart, so clever.  She really gives everything her all…etc.” Then after filling you up with honey, she would slip in one or two things your child could work on, “…however her desk is very untidy. She seems a little disorganized.  Math is difficult for her.”

Now a parent myself I realize how effective this technique is. I have recently had my own parent-teacher conferences and when the teacher starts off with. “ He is so funny, happy, eager, etc.”  I am so much more willing and able to hear the “but” that comes next.  Fill me up. Let me know that you like my child, that you appreciate them, then slip in your “however…” We all worry, we all know our children struggle with something, but we all want them to be loved, appreciated, and cared for.

Here is a little piece I wrote the other day as I watched my four-year dance, sing and play.  This is her last year before kindergarten…before it all starts. When I was deciding whether to send her onto school this year or not, (she is a late August baby, which would make her a full year younger than many of her classmates) her preschool teacher wisely said, “Why rush? Why not give her another year of childhood?”

I thought, she’s right. Wouldn’t we all love another year of childhood?  How great it would be to be four again and not worry about playground politics or math tests. How great to be able to read a book you want to read when you want to read it. To draw a picture and hang it up, proud of your work, not worrying that an art teacher is going to critique it or assign a grade to your masterpiece. To play baseball in the backyard for fun, not worrying about strikes or homeruns. How awesome to not be judged, because the real judging will come soon enough.

Why I wish I could be four again…

You can wear a two-piece on the beach and not worry about your tummy sticking out because the more it sticks out the cuter it is.

You can tell someone you love them, whenever you feel like it.

You can hug anyone. Anywhere. Anytime.

You can take long, warm bubble baths on a nightly basis.

You can fill your bed with stuffed animals.

You can laugh, skip and sing all the way down the street and no one thinks you are crazy.

You fall and get up, fall and get up, fall and get up, fall and get up….

When you fall, someone hugs you and wipes away your tears.

You can wear blue polka pants, a rainbow striped, sparkly shirt and purple cowboy boots and still look cute.

You can look at yourself in the mirror and loudly announce, “I am beautiful.”

You can order a hamburger, french fries and wash it all down wash it down with a coke without worrying about the calories.

You can spend hours playing with your best friend, your shadow.

You can wear a ballet tutu to Target in the middle of a snowstorm.

You can ask a million questions like, “Where does the sun go at night?” “Why do fireflies light up?” “How far is it to China?” and no one will think you are stupid for asking.

You don’t need three cups of coffee or a double latté to wake up in the morning.

You can tell come right out and tell someone, “You are mean. You hurt my feelings.”

Everyone smiles at you.

You can proudly say, “Look what I did!” and no one thinks you are bragging, they just clap.

A chocolate chip cookie fixes everything.

You can fall asleep anywhere and someone will pick you up and carry you to bed.

No matter what you do, all is forgiven the next day.

Santa’s Mom/Santa’s Dad

Merry Christmas to all! December is both such a short and a long month isn’t it? Short for adults who feel the hurried pressure to send the cards, get the perfect gifts, decorate the house, make the cookies, all with a bright smile and a joyful nature (ARGH!) And it is L-O-N-G for kids, who have been patiently waiting and feeling the holiday anticipation building since Halloween, when the stores all began their advertising campaigns.

I am currently in waiting mode myself. I am patiently waiting for the end of the MeeGenuis contest, which is over in about one week so if you haven’t voted yet PLEASE do and you have already, thank you so much.  (Just so you know, I hate these contests too, where you have to beg for people to vote for you, but unfortunately it looks like it is a necessary evil of the trade.) I am also waiting for another story of mine to be printed in Adoption Today Magazine, which should be out shortly, so in the meantime, I thought I would go ahead and post my Christmas story for you to read while you are taking a break from all this craziness.

This story really began a few years back when I was telling (begging) my youngest son, Teddy, to brush his teeth before bed. He was whining and stalling and then said, “I bet Santa’s mom doesn’t tell him to brush his teeth!”  (Can you believe his dad is a dentist!)  I said, “Of course she does, and wash his hands and put down the toilet seat!”  Teddy laughed and then said, “Does Santa even have a mom?” I said, “He must!” And we started going back and forth with the things Santa’s mom might do or say, then we added Santa’s dad. Pretty soon, I thought…I should write this down. So I did. Tweaked it a bit and here it is. Hope you enjoy it.

Happy Holidays! 

                                                                                                                         Santa’s Mom

When Santa was little he had a mom just like yours.

A mom that:

Made him a bowl of hot oatmeal on frosty mornings,

Sprinkled it all over with brown sugar,

And always remembered not to add any raisins.

A mom that would say things like:

“Please, stop teasing the reindeer!”

“No more wrestling with the elves.”

And “Happy Holidays! Watch out for that Christmas tree!”

A mom that helped him to put on all his snow gear:

His warm, wooly socks,

Waterproof boots,

Thick snow pants,

Fluffy coat,

Long windy scarf,

Two matching gloves

And one fuzzy hat.

A mom that:

Wasn’t afraid to go super fast down the big sledding hill,

Always making sure to sit right behind him and squeezing him really tightly so he wouldn’t tumble off,

Then laughing like crazy when they ended up rolling around together in the cold snow at the bottom.

A mom that helped him to take off his now:

Soaking socks,

Slippery boots,

Sopping wet snow pants,

Bulky coat,

Knotted up scarf,

One no longer matched glove,

And… “Nicholas Christopher Kringle-Claus, where is your hat?”

A mom that would:

Start a crackling fire to warm him up,

Make two big mugs of hot chocolate with marshmallows bobbing on the top,

And put a big bowl of buttery popcorn on the table for them to share.

A mom that would:

Help him to decorate the Christmas tree,

with the red and green balls placed all along the bottom,

The twisted candy canes carefully circling the middle,

And then lift him way up high so he could place the shining star up at the tippy, tippy top.

A mom that would:

Put on his red, wooly feety pajamas,

Help him find his favorite stuffed penguin, his cuddly polar bear and his worn out grey walrus,

And say, “Sweet Noel! Could you please, PLEASE brush your teeth!”

Even Santa had a mom that would:

Read him his favorite book,

Give him a soft kiss goodnight,

And whisper into his ear,

“May all your Christmas dreams come true.

Goodnight my little Santa Claus.”

When Santa was little he had a mom, just like yours.

                                                                       

                                  Santa’s Dad

When Santa was little he had a dad just like yours.

A dad that would:

Make his world famous, top secret, absolutely incredible chocolate chip pancakes on the weekends,

Play holiday hide and seek with him all morning,

And even let him win (sometimes).

A dad that could:

Make the best gingerbread house in the whole North Pole with:

Vanilla frosted walls,

Spicy gumdrops,

Chewy caramels,

Licorice bits,

Spearmint leaves,

Striped gum,

Cinnamon sticks,

Chocolate chunks,

And one fat candy cane chimney on the top.

A dad that would say:

“Sweet Blitzen, could you please stop ringing those jingle bells in the house!”

“Go. Now. And sweep out those reindeer stalls.”

And “Nick-O-laus! Who ate all the candy that was on that gingerbread house?”

A dad that knew how to:

Make a huge snow castle with secret tunnels,

a look out tower,

and not just one, but two hidden hideout rooms.

A dad that would:

Tie little Santa’s ice skates so tightly he couldn’t wiggle his toes,

And always picked him up and dusted him off when he fell down on the ice,

And always picked him up and dusted him off when he fell down on the ice,

And always picked him up and dusted him off when he fell down on the ice.

A dad that showed him how to:

Throw a super duper, fast snowball,

Rock out to Christmas carols on the electric guitar,

And drink a cup of eggnog in just one gulp… with a loud burp at the end!

(But only when Mrs. Claus wasn’t around.)

Even Santa had a dad that would:

Make sure to leave on the hall light,

Tickle his feet,

And whisper into his ear,

“Good night little Nicholas Christopher Kringle-Claus. Don’t let the jingle bugs bite.”

When Santa was little he had a dad just like yours.

Anne Cavanaugh-Sawan, 2011                                                                      

MeeGenuis, you Genuis too?

Hi all! T’is the season to freak out! I am freaking out.  Just back from a great trip to Florida, and not one Christmas decoration has been dragged down from the attic, unwrapped or hung yet. I received my first Christmas card in the mail today, I haven’t even taken our photo yet! Somehow these things all manage to get done in time.  Thank God, Steve Jobs, Amazon and UPS for without them Christmas would simply just not happen here.

I do have a Christmas story I am going to post in a few weeks but first it is time for a holiday appeal, and the hope for a Christmas wish to come true.

Wouldn’t you like to make just one person’s Christmas wish come true? Guess what, you can! It takes no money and minimal effort on your part. I know everyone is tired and annoyed from the last writing contest I asked people to vote for, and believe me, no one is more tired of asking people to vote for them than me but… (you knew that was coming right?), I entered yet another writing contest so if everyone just goes and votes for my two books I can stop these annoying and rather embarrassing pleas for help.

A company called MeeGenuis, which publishes and markets online books for children, put out this contest.  I tried a few of their books out on my youngest and she liked them, so their marketing ploy has already worked for them with at least one consumer. I entered two books into this contest, and if I win I not only get my book published but the local school library gets a free library of ebooks for a year. Pretty cool, right? So please, take a break from the Christmas hubbub. Make yourself a cup of cocoa with creamy marshmallows melting over the top, sit down by a crackling fire, put your tired feet up and vote for me.  That’s all I want for Christmas…oh yeah and world peace, of course. Thanks guys!

Oh, here is the link, see how easy I made it for you? Relax, breathe, now click the “Like” button right there next to to the story.

http://www.meegenius.com/challenge/the-baseball-game-by-anne-sawan

and again, here.

http://meegenius.com/challenge/two-years-bigger-two-years-smaller-by-anne-sawan

Thank you! You are the best! You deserve something really great this year. Something really big! Really expensive! Really cool! Treat yourself, go ahead. Or better yet, write a blog, tell people what you want, and maybe…. 

Gym Class Heroes

I started up my tennis lessons again last week. I never even held a tennis racket in my hands until two years ago when a couple of friends asked me if I wanted to join them for a “Tennis for Dummies” class (that is not really what the sports club called it, I just thought the title seemed appropriate).

I had recently left my job and had some free time so I thought, Why not? If Serena Williams can do it, how hard can it be? Right?

(Have you seen that girl’s muscles? I am still waiting to get arms like that.)

So I joined and let me tell you, I stunk! Terrible! But it was fun and pretty much we all stunk together, so it was okay.  Fast-forward to now, I am probably just a hair above stinking, so my teacher told me to try the next level up class (I think she is like Mrs. Puff on SpongeBob and I am the sponge/student she is trying to get rid of).

That is where I was last week.  I felt unsure of myself, really wanted to skip the whole thing, pretend I was ill or had something glamorous like tennis elbow, but I forced myself to go and during the warm up… it became pretty obvious who the Uber players were and who the not-so Uber players were going to be. Guess where I fell…

After the warm up, the instructors told us to pair up a with a partner to begin the real playing, and then it happened …

A flashback to those gym classes of so long ago…

Picking teams, picking partners, the shifting of feet, sideways glances, praying you aren’t picked last, or hoping you aren’t paired with so and so…UGH!!

Suffice it to say, I made it through. I was sweating like a pig, and couldn’t move my arms the next day (Come on Serena arms!) but it was fun, and sorry Uber players, like Arnold and Charlie Sheen, I will be back.

That recent experience really made me think, and was a good reminder for me as a parent, as to what it is like to be put in a situation where you don’t feel ready or comfortable. How it feels not to know other people in the group. To have to try and prove yourself even if you know you aren’t as good as the others. How it feels not to be picked first. Or maybe even at all….it pretty much sucks.

My oldest son George is a natural athlete. I am not trying to brag, I am just stating a strength of his.  Since he was in the womb he has been athletic. I remember him kicking and shooting hoops in- utero and I was like, “What the hell is going on in there!”  My stomach constantly looked like some weird scene from Alien, and I swear I saw a Nike sign tattooed across my stretched skin. He walked at nine months, and ran at nine months, one day. I wanted to get a helmet for his head because was so small with his big baby head careening into everything.

Finally he was old enough for organized sports, and had a place to put all that energy. Thank God! And he loves it.  Sports is his niche. Maybe not everyones niche, but definitely his.

He does well, he tries hard, he dedicates himself, but there are times like anyone when he fails…and he gets down on himself.

I wrote the story below, The Baseball Game, after I heard him say how much he stunk at something when he didn’t make a team he was vying for. After I wrote it, I read it to my youngest son, Teddy.

He said, “I like it, and I get it. Georgie is George and Andy is me, isn’t he mom?”

No pulling the wool over that kid’s eyes.

I wrote this story for my oldest son, and for the kids that love sports. Those that put their heart and soul into each game. Those that cheer when they win and cry when they lose.  I also wrote it for those kids who don’t always do well in sports, or who really just don’t have an interest in them. I know those kids too. I get it. And it hurts when you are picked last or not at all.

 The Baseball Game

George was the biggest kid in fifth grade at Highland Elementary, and the fastest and the strongest, and the coolest.

And no one thought he was cooler more than Andy.

Andy was the smallest, the slowest, the weakest and definitely not the coolest kid in fifth grade at Highland Elementary.

Everything George did was cool.

He never cried, never. Not even when he stapled his hand in art class. He just waved his hand in the air with the big staple sticking out and everyone cheered, except Mrs. Pritchard who looked like she was going to faint.

Andy poked himself in the eye with his pencil by mistake once. He cried and Mrs. Pritchard fainted.

George landed a triple flip off the high bars at recess and everyone cheered, except for Mrs. Pritchard who turned really pale and had to go sit in the shade with an ice pack on her head.

Andy tried to hang upside down on the low bar for ten seconds, but he fell off after eight seconds, busted his nose, chipped a tooth and scraped his knee. Mrs. Pritchard fainted.

George always wore his baseball hat backwards and his pants real low, just like the teenagers at the high school.  Andy tried to wear his pants low once but they just slipped off in the middle of gym class and everyone laughed at his Captain Fantastic underwear.

And George always hit home runs in baseball.  Always.

Andy… didn’t.

At the end of the school year it was a tradition for the Highland Fifth Graders to play the Harris School Fifth graders.  The winning school got bragging rights for a whole year. Harris School had won five years in a row.  That was a lot of bragging to listen too.

But, this year everyone just knew Highland was going to win, after all they had George.

Game day came. Highland School filled the bleachers to the right, Harris School filled the bleachers to the left.

“Batter up!” Yelled Mrs. Pritchard, the umpire.

The game began. It was hot. It was sticky. It was awesome. Strikes, home runs, kids sliding in, kids getting out.

Finally it was the bottom of the ninth inning. Two outs, bases loaded, Highland was down by one.

George walked to the plate.

“Georgie, Georgie!” The whole school cheered.

This was it! They were sure to win now! The crowd roared with excitement.

George readied his bat, and tilted his head. The pitcher wound up, and…

ZOOM!

“Strike one!” Called Mrs. Pritchard.

WHOOSH!

“Ball!” Called Mrs. Pritchard.

WHIZZZ!

George swung!

“STIR-IKE!” Yelled the umpire, adjusting her face cage.

George shook his head, gripped the bat tighter, glared at the pitcher, and took a deep breath.

The pitcher wound up again and,

SHUMMMM!

George swung! He swung hard! He swung fast!

CRACK!

Straight to centerfield!  That ball was going, going….

The center fielder from Harris School began to run. He ran!  He ran fast, his glove stretching out, out, reaching, reaching and… PLOP!

The ball landed right in his glove.

“You’re out!” Mrs. Pritchard managed to yell, right before she fainted from surprise.

A loud cheer rose from the left side of the field. Harris School had won… again!

The Highland fifth graders all sat in silence.

Was it possible? Did it really happen? They had lost? George was out?

George sat with his head in hands as all the students silently filed past.  Everyone left. Everyone that is, except for Andy.

Andy scooted down from the stands and sat quietly next to George.

“I stink,” muttered George, shaking his head.

Andy scooted closer and sniffed, “No you don’t,” he said.

“No, I mean I stink. I stink in baseball! I stink! I stink at everything!” said George, a tear slipping down his cheek.

“Wow, that sure is a lot to stink at,” said Andy.

He thought for a moment.

“You don’t stink at everything.”

“You’re really good at stapling your body parts.”

“You’re really good at scaring Mrs. Pritchard.”

“And you’re really good at chewing with your mouth open.”

“I do that?” asked George.

“Sure, everyday at lunch,” said Andy.

“Is it gross?” asked George.

“Yeah, sort of, but in a really fascinating, disgusting, cool sort of way,” said Andy.

They sat together for a while.

“Want me to teach you how to play baseball?” said George.

“No thanks, I already asked that kid from the other team to teach me tomorrow,” said Andy. “But you could help me launch my sonic rocket to the moon.”

George smiled.

“Sure, why not,” He said.

He reached over and turned Andy’s hat around backwards. “Know what, you’re pretty cool.”

“And you know what,” said Andy, turning his hat back around and wrinkling his nose.  “You do stink a little.”