Monday, May 26, 2014

Tactful Encouragement of Bad Ideas and Boots

So I couldn't sleep this morning, and at 4 am I found myself watching Sopranos reruns. In this one episode, Christopher and Adriana (Ariana?) are fighting because he doesn't support her dream of promoting this band, and he looks like a  total dickwad.  Except he actually is right -- the band sucks and will never make money, and he was told this by professionals. 

This reminded me of an incident I had in high school with my steady beau that I handled so badly that I'm still mulling it over 14 years later.  Boyfriend came to pick me up in a special outfit.  I could tell he had put effort in -- he was wearing gray dress pants tucked in to mid-calf black suede wanker boots and a striped dress shirt, instead of his usual jeans and t-shirt. I said nothing, because although I knew he went out of his way to dress up for me, it was awful, and I really didn't want to encourage him to wear it again.  

This is the closest picture I could find, because apparently they were so hideous everyone has destroyed all evidence that they ever existed.  Picture them taller and with a 1 inch heel.


Here's more info - he hated when I wore black, so I stopped wearing black for him, then I hated him for not "letting" me wear black, when really, I was the one in control of what I put on my body.  I knew what it felt like when he told me he hated my outfits. In not saying anything, I was trying to be gentle.

Of course the awful outfit came up in a fight later, and he accused me of not even noticing that he went to great lengths to dress up.  I didn't defend myself, because I felt telling him that I hated his outfit would be hurtful. I let him think I was oblivious. 

In retrospect, I probably should have said something like, "Wow, you dressed up!"  and left out the expected, "and you look nice."  But I was 16 and afraid he'd ask if he did, in fact look nice, and I didn't know what I was supposed to say then. 

So the question of the day is, "How do you not look like a dickwad when your partner wants your support and you think they are going down the wrong path?"

Is it more loving to lie and let them walk around in knee high black suede wanker boots? 

Monday, May 19, 2014

The Joy of Losing

It's baseball season again.  Because I have more enthusiasm than self-preservation, I signed Big Pants up for travel baseball. Because, yay, baseball!  The kid loves it, and Big Pants had outgrown the regular rec league coach pitch team. I have to admit my Mama ego was stroked that he made try-outs. 

What I forgot was that travel baseball means three hours of baseball, three or four days a week.  That's nine hours minimum of wrangling a little brother who is not playing baseball.  I also forgot I hate team sports.

So far it's been okay, actually, other than trying to curb my whining to the other mothers on the team, most of whom seem to think watching three hours of baseball is a great time.  When I whine, I can see them thinking get a life.  Sigh.  I'm a lousy sports mom. 

What's cool about this year's team, other than the adorable outfits, um, uniforms, is that they actually keep score, and stats and online spray graphs and cool stuff like that.  And so far, we have lost every game. Not lost by a few points, but lost by at least a good ten point spread.  I'm actually happy about that, too.

You see, my kids are growing up in a culture of everyone's a winner, which sounds good, right?  Except my kids are also smart enough to know that when everyone wins, it doesn't mean much.

SETTING:  a T-Ball game last summer.  Tiny Pants hits the ball and walks to first.

MAMA:  Tiny Pants, do you like T-ball?  You can quit if you don't like it. 
(thinking, Oh, please quit, please quit, because I am a bad sports mom) 
TINY PANTS:  I like T-ball.
MAMA:  Then why don't you run the bases? 
TINY PANTS:  It's hot, and it's not like they are going to get me out. They aren't allowed to.

SETTING:  In the car after an awards assembly:

MAMA:  Did you get an award?
TINY PANTS:  I got a science award.
BIG PANTS: I got the same award as Rian.
MAMA: Wow, you guys must both be great at science!
(Planning Mad Sibling Science Lab and eventual world domination)
BIG PANTS:  No, everyone gets an award. they have to give you one, so they just pick something you are good at.

Can you hear the pride in his voice over his science award?  No?  I couldn't either. 

Kids keep score on everything.  They know who is the best at math in their class, who is the top speller, and who is great at recess football.  For the first time, other people are keeping score, and Big Pants loves it.

He may not love losing, but at this point he's more concerned with his own stats, because stats are cool, and he's happy with his performance so far. 

The coach insists that the team cheers loudly for each other and reassure each other if they strike out.  The team seems to be made up of really nice, supportive kids. 

Big Pants is less concerned with the fact that his team lost than by the reason they lost.  He spends hours pouring over the website looking at the stats for fielding as well as hitting.  He designs line-ups in his head, but mostly he's concerned with his own performance and how he can best help the team. 

He has not yet decided that some players should not play, or blamed anyone for a loss.  He still believes that you play with the team you have, and looks for everyone's strengths.  Maybe thats from watching The Little Giants  and The Mighty Ducks  over and over, or maybe it's because he's never been around kids that groan when a bad player comes up to the plate. 

(Note: I was the player that they groaned about and shouted, easy out.)

Big Pants is learning for the first time, what it is not to win at everything.  So far, he's taking it like a champion. I'm learning to stop bitching about 12 hours of baseball a week.  Well, maybe that's too much to expect.  Perhaps I can attempt to bitch quieter, and only when it rains.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Sweet and Crazy Mothers

Mothers are our first love and our first example of what grown ups are all about. They teach us to clean our rooms and wash our faces and prepare our little minds for the world ahead, but their lessons don't end when we turn 18.  The life they lead by example still contains a message about the next stage in life.

My mother just turned seventy last month. She's not in the greatest shape, to be honest, and is just three months out from her spinal fusion surgery.  That was the one where they removed part of her spine and replaced it with metal. 

My mother's hair is pure white and she wears glasses. She is the kind of person who lets other people talk too much (including me) and always offers to wash the dishes while the rest of the family goes and does something else more fun.  She is bookish and loves to play Free Cell solitaire on her phone. 

A week or so ago she took her partner and her paperwork about the metal rod in her back and the doctor's note about her titanium hip and showed them to TSA's X-ray screeners and boarded a plane to Africa, because in spite of looking like a librarian and acting like the worlds sweetest Nana she is still a woman who has dreams, big adventurous dreams. The twenty year old woman who traveled to Mexico alone still resides inside her.

My atheist mother is on safari in Botswani at the moment, because she said that Africa is the most spiritual place on earth, and she needed to return one more time, in spite of being 70 and being held together with metal. She says it is truly the birthplace of creation, and you can feel it in the soil and see it in the savanna. My mom's cool like that.

She's also a little crazy like that. This is the person who quit her job, sold her house, and went to live on a boat with her life-mate at age 50 in spite of not really knowing how to sail. Oh, did I mention they brought two dogs and a cat with them?

She's also the person who was mugged in Paris and chased down the pickpocket and beat him over the head with her umbrella, in spite of having only about $20 in her wallet. 

She is the same person who got stranded in Thailand a few years back due to political unrest. (but she had a great time anyway.)

Perhaps I need to talk less and listen more when she comes back from her latest sojourn.  There is obviously much I have to learn from this woman who is always content to let everyone else hog the spotlight.