Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Grown Up Skills I Have Yet to Master

Among other things:

  1. Being gracious while feeling very hurt.
  2. Understanding why people act put out and indignant (or ignore you) when you actually take them up on an offer.
  3. Projecting confidence.
There are more. Lots more. But these are highlighting my week so far. And it's only Wednesday.


Saturday, September 19, 2009

There Are Soccer Moms and Moms of Kids Who Play Soccer. I Think (Hope) I'm the Latter.

Some days I think - no, I know - I don't fit in to this town.

This morning at M's soccer game I observed several moms yelling - YELLING! - at their 9 year old sons for not making plays and for how they were guarding the goal and things like that. It wasn't pleasant to watch. I noticed, though, that the moms who were behaving like this were some of the more "popular" moms in town. Cliques do still exist, long after high school. It got me thinking a lot about the social structure around here.

I was never very good at the superficial chitchatting that goes on at soccer and baseball games. I think that comes mostly from insecurity, but I understand that it can sometimes come off as being aloof. It takes me a while to really make friends - but if we become friends, I'm fiercely loyal (my friends become friends for decades, not just short periods). I don't tolerate stupidity and cliquey behavior very well. I commit to what I believe in.

Clearly this has cost me over the years. Mostly I've been okay with that. Some days are harder than others, though. It would be nice to have more of a local social life.

It may be affecting my kids more than I realize. I don't know what to do about that. Parents not wanting to have their kids hanging around with the kids of that uppity J.

In the last two weeks I have:

  • Asked people (via email) I thought were close enough acquaintances and generally reasonable people to come to the school committee meeting to see what ludicrousness abounds. I said it didn't matter which "side" you were on in terms of the start time change, seeing the tone of the audience was important, and important to try to bring back civil discourse to this town. Not one responded - and two have refused to look at me at various town activities. What the fuck, people. Yes, I still believe the time change is the right thing. It's in place and the kids are doing great with it. Really! They've all adjusted just fine. It's the parents who are still freaking out, still trying to bully the administration and the school committee and I am doing by best to stand up to that.
  • Called out a local mom who inappropriately culled emails from a school list to advertise for a private venture - which happened to be a introduction to field hockey series for four and five year old girls (fine) called "Junior Chix with Sticks". Euw. Lets start objectifying girls really young! I knew this because I have one email account that is school stuff only. If a friend had given her an email address, I would have received it on a different account - and still would have been grossed out by the title but just plain ignored it. I've been out on enough real estate lists by people inappropriately using class email lists that I have low tolerance for it now.
  • Had an issue with the local Girl Scouts when I emailed the mother of one of S's friends about possibly attending sign up night together. S has expressed an interest and I've tried to be open even though my Girl Scout experience was terrible (worst bullying of my life was in Girl Scouts). Imagine my surprise when I learned that S's friend's mom had been contacted in the spring about signing up by a person who said, "I want to get a troop of girls and moms I like together before regular sign-ups." I kid you not - the mom forwarded the email rather innocently (I think). After asking around a little more, I learn there's now this troop of Kindergarten Daisies that are now known as the "good" troop and a waiting list has been established for it. What the hell? That kind of excluding going on when the girls are FIVE! Contacted the local council and asked if this was an accepted practice. Never heard back. My daughter will NOT be doing Girl Scouts.
So I guess with all that, it's no wonder people don't speak to me at soccer games. But do I want to be part of that whole culture? I don't know. I do want my kids to have the option to be a part of whatever it is they want to be a part of, and that may not be possible with me as their mother, at least the way I am right now.

The idea of putting on a false smile and pretending, oh, I don't know what, makes me cringe, but I'm starting to think I may have to do that. Maybe I do have to let my daughter join Girl Scouts and pretend "Junior Chix with Sticks" is so cute and shut up about the time change and all that. Maybe I do have to become a full-fledged soccer mom instead of a mom of kids who play soccer.

I don't know.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Mean Mom

That would be me.

On Friday, M had a little fiasco with frozen limeade concentrate. He decided, for unclear reasons, to take container of frozen limeade concentrate as his cool-pak for his lunch. At some point in the afternoon, the concentrate had melted sufficiently, and the tube was punctured, creating a really big mess.

He came home, took his binder out, left it on the stairs and took the backpack and lunch bag to the basement to be washed, which they were.

All day long today I asked him to get his backpack together. At 7:45 he finally does. (Bedtime is 8:30 and he still needs a shower.) Of course, he can't find it. He expects all of us to drop everything and look for it. I refuse to.

His teacher this year is very good. She's all about personal responsibility and organization.

M is wailing, feeling sorry for himself, puttering around and sulking, not really looking. This is most definitely his responsibility, not mine - or his dad's or his brother's or his sister's. Unless he can figure out what he did with it in the next five minutes or in the morning, he'll have consequences with his teacher. I'm fine with that. He needs to learn this lesson.

I do feel bad for the kid - I do. But he needs to learn this.

Yeah, I'm a mean mom.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Conversations I Never Imagined

Soccer season started today. Sure, M was rained out, but C's game was on.

C will be taller than me within days. Seriously. He's already taller than his dad, with bigger feet.

This all means that soccer season was preceded by a trip to the sporting goods store for new soccer shorts AND new cleats.

While we were there, I asked, "C? Do you, um, need a pair of compression shorts under those soccer shorts?"

He looked at me funny. "I don't think so," he said.

Back in the car, I turned up the music so his siblings couldn't discern words well and I asked, "Do you know what compression shorts are?"

He admitted, "No."

"It's to, um, keep, um, everything.....well, secure. So, uh, certain parts of you don't bounce around too much. Because that could cause, well, kinda like bruising."

He gave me a sideways glance.

I asked, "Do you know what an athletic supporter is?" I was afraid of the answer as I'd asked my husband to have this very specific conversation with C.

C replied, "No."

"Ok, it's, um, a garment, kinda like, um, underwear, but tighter and there are just straps around your legs instead of an actual back, and it, uh, holds everything - you know - um, in place."

C looked at me with very wide eyes.

"So," I said, "when you think you need such an item of athletic equipment, please let me or Dad know." All the while hoping that person would be Dad.

I dropped C at soccer and I went home and had a beer.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Putting it in Perspective

We've been busy with start of school stuff. Today was the first day for the boys.

After several months of being deeply involved with this start time change issue, I've been as nervous for today as the kids. Apparently, in all my involvement, I wasn't communicating details well to the boys. C has been upset about the change because it will cut into his free time in the afternoon. (Interestingly, a friend has a 9th grade son is upset for the same reason - and his response is that he plans to do all his homework the moment he gets home so it's done out of the way, and he can enjoy the rest of the day. Kinda what we've been encouraging the kids to do all along...)

Last night, when trying to move C along to bed (M and S already were there) around 9:30, he and I had this exchange.

C: Why are you trying to get me to go to bed so early?

Me: So you get enough sleep. Haven't you noticed that Dad and I have been working to get you guys back to your school-year routine?

C: Yeah, but, it's still to early. Since I get to sleep later. So, you'll wake me up after you put M on the bus, right?

Me: No, I'll wake you up before we go out.

C: Why?

Me: You say you like to get up an hour before the bus. That will be an hour, if I get you up before I get M on the bus.

C: Wait. What? What time will my bus come?

Me: About 8AM, I think.

C: 8AM? What about the school start time change?

Me: That is with the school start time change?

C: I thought I'd get on the bus at, like, 8:30AM or something.

Me: Uh-uh.

C: So it's really only a 45 minute change?

Me: Yes.

C: Really?

Me: Yes, really.

C: All this time, I thought we had, like, and hour and a half difference in the time change. Only 45 minutes?

Me: Yup.

C: So why were all these people freaking out over 45 minutes?

Me: I have no idea.

C: That makes absolutely no sense.

He said it, not me.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

He writes like a girl!

I listened to a great segment on this radio show this afternoon on the way home. As part of talking about anonymous online bookseller reviewers, there was one crack that such an anonymous review might say about George Eliot, "He writes like a girl!"

Beyond the piece being generally funny, I appreciated the discussion about the type of person who comments anonymously on those sites, as if they, and only they, are doing some great service, the only ones speaking truth to power, and all that. The guest, author of this book, then had this to say:

"They're like the 50,000 people at the Mets stadium screaming at Chipper Jones. They're speaking truth to power. But he's on the field getting paid, and you're in the stands screaming. He's going to Cooperstown, you're going home."

Awesome way to put it. The anonymous reviewers claim to know everything, yet they are not the ones putting themselves out there, submitting their ideas and writing to public perusal and hopefully acceptance.

It's something I hope I can remember.

The book thing is back on, and has been for a while. An outline was approved and a contract has been signed. I've found it hard to talk about; I am excited and nervous all at once. What if it's awful? What if I get hundreds of nasty reviews on that online bookseller site?

I've also been writing a heck of a lot - nearly 30,000 words thus far - and have to be rather disciplined in the evening to achieve that. And amid my regular work schedule and going on vacation. I turned in half the book on Monday (and all the publisher said was, "Thanks. We'll get back to you." After my huge push to have it ready, it felt more than a little anti-climatic). The rest is due in about 6 weeks. Amid my regular work schedule and school ramping up again.

I'm sending chapters around for various people to look at. I'm looking for moms to offer quotes (anyone? anyone?). I'm just generally overwhelmed - and I think I'm going to be happy when it's over.