A Side of Rice

Hopefully Humorous (and sometimes R-rated) Musings About Life


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Two Weeks Notice

It hit me this morning. Hard. In just two weeks (and technically, very delayed from the original date), we will take our oldest son Alex to Ithaca College for his second semester of Freshman year, but only his first semester on campus.

Ithaca went entirely virtual for the Fall of 2020. Can you tell how awesome Alex thought virtual learning and living at home for his first semester as a Freshman was?

That’s probably because he was seeing lots of his high school friends post selfies on social media as they were moving into their college dorms. So he sent me this selfie of his virtual dorm room. Or, as I like to call it, the room in our house that always has clothes on the floor.

Like everyone with school-aged kids, we’ve dealt with the challenges of virtual learning. Alex’s younger brother Nick is a senior in high school this year, but he seems much more happy about the virtual learning situation.

However, that smile may only be hiding the fact that he thinks we don’t know he has been turning in assignments late or (#SoBlessed) doesn’t do them at all. Look, son, September through November is a little early to have “Senior-itis.”

At one point, I advertised that we were willing to sell the naming rights to the dining room, to help fund the boys’ college accounts. I just don’t understand why my ad didn’t generate a single inquiry, because I included a photo: Virtual study hall. Previously called dining room. Willing to sell sponsorship renaming rights to any company. Serious inquiries only.

Maybe I should have clarified that the humans were included. Or, for the right price, we wouldn’t include them.

Our boys eventually found virtual learning to be a necessary evil an unfortunate situation not something mom purposely orchestrated to make them miserable, so just get over it already.

In November, since the teenagers in the house were still schooling virtually, we decided a change of scenery was in order, and we spent a week in Myrtle Beach. The boys attended school online in the mornings and early afternoons.

Ithaca College, Myrtle Beach satellite campus

Their dad and I didn’t work, went for walks, and relaxed. We socially distanced ourselves and spent time enjoying the very sparsely populated beach.

In November, we also received news that the students were going to return to campus for the Spring semester at Ithaca.

And when we received confirmation of his move-in day in January, Alex tried hard not to express any excitement or enthusiasm.

This is my happy face, mom.

We haven’t had the heart to let our dog Mocha know that Alex’s departure is imminent. We’re not exactly sure how she is going to react to the fact that once he is on campus, we can’t visit, and he can’t come home until the semester is over. She’s likely to be devastated — Alex’s lap is her favorite.

Just like everything else about 2020 — the year that knocked us upside down, sideways, and backward — there will be nothing “normal” about this mom getting to take her oldest son to college for his Freshman year. We have to drop him off, not help with moving any of his things in, and leave immediately once everything is offloaded. Thanks, ‘Rona.

Nor will there be anything as cool as this story and video of one of his football teammates being dropped off last year.

I’m hoping the coolest thing about the drop off is me. Because while I’m thrilled and excited for him to start the next chapter of his life, I feel like I’m not nearly cool enough to keep my heart from melting. Even though I’ve had 18 years, 10 months, and 10 days to get used to the idea.

It just feels like I’ve only had two weeks.


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WWTTMD (What Would This Team Mom Do)

I have never had the chore  drudgery  onus  privilege of being a team mom for any of the sports my boys have played. The list of sports since 2008 includes soccer (briefly), baseball (until this year), football and basketball (still playing both), and lacrosse (since 2014). Next Spring, we start track & field.

I have had 40 seasons (spring-summer-fall-winter) over 10 years to offer my services as team mom.  I have not volunteered even one time to actually be the team mom. However, positions I have held include:

  • team photographer
  • team fundraising organizer
  • team baker
  • team cheerleader and spirit wearer
  • team face painter (my own and others)
  • team snack maker
  • team dinner server

Of course, the position I am always actively involved in and exercise the most is team eye roller, when I hear parents  snivel  whine  bitch  offer criticism about anything team related, including (but certainly not limited to):

  • more playing time for their kid
  • location of events
  • referees
  • our coach’s play calling
  • the other team’s rudeness (coaches, players, fans)
  • why we can’t have names on uniforms
  • having to work the concession stand
  • team dinner sign ups
  • team pictures process

So, if you’d like to know what I would do as team mom (and why I will never actually be team mom), here’s the list:

Your complaint: More playing time for your kid

If I were team mom, I would tell you there are:

PlayingTime

But I don’t have time to go over all 12 tips because I have other parents who have the same  annoying damn question. So, in the interest of maximizing my time, here are all 12 tips synthesized into 12 easy words:  Not one of the kids on this team is going pro. Deal.

Your complaint: The Location of Events

If I were team mom, I would tell you that unless you want to double the time you are voluntold to spend in the concession stand, it is sweet blessed relief to travel to another team’s field so you can give that knowing look to the parents in that concession stand when you order the luke-warm diet soda and foil wrapped, smashed hotdog.

Your complaint: Referees

If I were team mom, I would tell you that we don’t have the money to fund the lasik surgery they all clearly need. And that I have no interest in heading up the fundraiser it would take to pay for it.

Lasik

(C) John McPherson/Distributed by Universal Uclick via cartoonstock.com

Your complaint: Our coach’s play calling

If I were team mom, I would tell you to volunteer your weekends and weeknights for practices and game days. This would also include listening to <insert number of kids on team here> parents tell you as a volunteer coach exactly what you are doing wrong and how to correct it. And please listen to all of these experts and then not tell them to f*ck off.

ParentCoach

Your complaint: The other team’s rudeness (players, coaches, fans)

If I were team mom, I would tell you that unless anyone from the other side (player, coach and/or fan) looks like this, just shut up and cheer your kid and our team on.

San Diego Chargers v Oakland Raiders

Your complaint: Why we can’t have names on uniforms

If I were team mom, I would pull out this sign and shove it in your face. Plus it costs money to personalize jerseys, so I will just ask you to cut a check for every player’s jersey if that shit so important to you.

 

Jersey

Your complaint: Having to work the concession stand

If I were team mom, I would tell you the money we make from concession sales helps to fund things for the sport … like parents who insist that every player get a personalized jersey every year. So, shut up and make the sno-cones.

Calm SnoCones

Your complaint: Team dinner sign ups

If I were team mom, I would bark back at you that I’m the one who has to nag the shit out of people to sign up for the 18 slots available, when there are 50+ kids on the team. Oh yeah, and it’s the same parents who sign up every week. The remaining 30+ wait until all the slots are full and will then fight over who gets to bring a package of napkins – which isn’t even on the list.

Drinkit

Your complaint: Team picture process

If I were team mom, I would remind you that Ansel Adams has no kids on the team, so Victor O’Neill (who doesn’t have any kids on the team either) and his Studio flunky assigned to this team on this day are the people in charge.  Just to be clear, there are also two important elements that I don’t control. They are 1)  that your kid joined the team late and missed picture day, and/or 2) whether or not you would have preferred the jersey with their name on it for the picture.

danger

So, now that I’ve covered the basics of team momming, let me know if you have any questions.

dumblooks


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Maybe, the First Cut Isn’t the Deepest

On Thursday, July 12, my son Alex had a baseball game at Heritage Farm Park in Walkersville, MD. For most people that know us, this is not in any way unusual. He’s been playing baseball for 10 Springs/Summers, starting with Tball back in 2009.

heritagefarm_park

Our home field — regardless of the age level — has always been one in Heritage Farm Park. Well, with the exception of the high school team, which plays at a field on the high school property.

I have spent countless hours in Heritage Farm Park on a variety of ball fields, freezing my ass off in unseasonalby cold and rainy Springs, and questioning the power of my own deodorant in the blisteringly hot and humid heat of Summer.

And then, of course, there is concession stand duty, which all baseball moms know as the 10th circle of hell. If Dante had run that manuscript by his wife first, his list of circles would have been completed properly.

Calm SnoCones

2017 was Alex’s freshman year in high school. He had tried out for and made the JV team. But this Spring, he tried out for and was cut from the baseball team.

Wait…what?  For the first time in 10 years, Alex was cut from a team and would not be  playing baseball in the Spring. And neither Alex nor his parents were prepared for that because he’d made every travel team and All Star team that required tryouts since 2010.

Well, there was the exception of a regional elite team in 2015. We hadn’t expected him to make that team, but thought it would be a good idea for him to try out. The extra exercise in the days between baseball and football seasons would serve him well. And heaven freakin’ forbid there be a full week where he didn’t need to wear cleats for some reason.

It’s not like 2015 was a washout — though he didn’t make the elite team, he played rec/travel baseball with his regular team that Spring and Summer.

This Summer, he tried out for an American Legion team. He made the team, but it was a regional team, with fewer of the teammates he’d grown up with and a new coaching staff. And because he’d missed Spring with the high school team, he struggled with his skills.

After this season’s experience with baseball, Alex made the decision that football is his priority sport. At 6′ 2″ and over 250 pounds (and only 3/4 of the way through puberty, according to his pediatrician), he’s built for football. He’ll be the starting center on the varsity football team this Fall, when he begins his junior year in high school.

Alex has also decided he won’t be trying out for high school baseball next Spring. Instead, he’ll be doing the Field part of Track and Field with some of his football lineman buddies. And in a fantastic — though bittersweet — twist, his Track and Field coach will be the wife of one of his former baseball (and basketball) coaches, who passed away suddenly last year.

Steve and Alex 1

Alex and Coach Steve at The Ripken Experience in Aberdeen. RIP Steve ❤️

Steve and Alex 2

Steve coaching Alex at first base. RIP Steve ❤️

On Thursday, as I drove through the park on my way to watch Alex’s game, I realized this was the last baseball game of the season at Heritage Farm Park. His last baseball game at Heritage Farm Park. Ever. The realization of this choked me up a bit, the way it did when he walked off the field after his last game with the GVAA Junior Lions football team in 2015, since he would be moving on to high school the following Fall.

IMG_4523

October 10, 2015: Alex (#68) leaves the football field at Heritage Farm Park for the last time of his GVAA Junior Lion football career, though the team would go on to the playoffs at other locations. Walking with him are his dad and his younger brother Nick, who missed most of the season with a broken collar bone, courtesy of some backyard football shenanigans with his brother Alex.                                                                                                                                                                                      I’m pretty sure I boo hoo’d as I took this photo.

Field #5 where he currently plays baseball is the last field on the loop that you drive through in Heritage Farm Park. This night, I stopped at every field and took a picture, which stirred a number of memories…

2009: Tball

Alex in Tball

Alex as a Tball Pirate – 8 years old.

Tball Field

Tball field in 2018: fences in front of the benches, behind home plate, and to outline the outfield have been added since Alex played – compared to the picture above. From this vantage point, you can see three other baseball fields, of the six total baseball fields in the park. There are also 2 softball fields, multiple soccer fields, a frisbee gold course, a par-3 golf course, a football/lacrosse field, multiple football practice fields, two playground and picnic areas and a variety of walking paths. Plus a community garden and mulch pile for yard waste.

 

2010: Machine pitch

Machine pitch 2010

The 2010 GVAA Wildcats All Star Team – Alex is in the second row, far left. They once played in a tournament as the lowest seed on the championship day. They battled through 4 games that day in 100+ degree heat to win the tournament.

Machine and kid pitch field

2018: The machine pitch field, which can also be used for kid pitch. On this evening, the machine pitch All Star team was practicing.

2011: First year of kid pitch

2011 2nd Place in State Tournament

2011 GVAA All Star Team – Runners-up in the Maryland State Tournament that year. Alex is in the second row, far left (#22)

Kid pitch field

2018: Kid pitch field where the heartbreaking runner up finish in the Maryland State Tournament took place.

2012: Kid pitch

2012

Alex took on the new position of catcher in 2012. He was a big force behind the plate and a run blocking machine, which he successfully did in this picture.  It’s the same field they played on in 2011.

2013: Kid pitch field, a bit larger as they hit the pre-teen years

2013

Alex at bat

Preteen Field

2018: The field that kids play on after they move up from the smaller kid pitch field. A father and son are doing some batting practice on this evening.

2014: Still on the kid pitch field; the year of The Ripken Experience

2014 Ripken Experience

Alex on the mound during a game at the 2014 Ripken Experience Beach Blast Tournament. The team did fundraising and preparation for 2+ years to make the trek to this event. It was a great week. We made it to the playoff round, but were knocked out of the tournament by a team from Georgia that played baseball year-round.

2015: We move up to a larger field

2015

Alex takes a foul ball off the mask. He stayed in the game after getting his bell rung.

2015A

Alex and his brother Nick, who (perhaps not so willingly) served as the bat boy for the team

Field 4

Field #4 – one step away from the “big” boy/adult field. On Thursday night, the 14U All Star team is getting ready to practice, as they prep for the state tournament taking place this weekend.

2016: Same field, becoming young men

2016

A between innings chat with the umpire

2017: We move to the big field; Alex plays high school ball in his freshman year

2017 JV

Alex on the JV high school baseball team in the Spring

2017 GVAA Travel

Playing for the travel team in the Summer

Big boy field

The “big boy” field, the evening of July 12, 2018. Getting ready to play ball.

2018: The final year

2018

My baseball knight, in his catcher’s armour

Last Night Behind the Plate at Heritage.JPG

Alex catching in the last baseball game he will ever play at Heritage Farm Park, Thursday, July 12, 2018

The memories I have from Alex’s youth baseball career are deep. They include…

…10 years of physical growth, skill honing and emotional development

…10 years of amazing wins and heartbreaking losses

…10 years of community and friendship building in a new town we had moved to when Alex was just 2 years old, with no family or established friend support system locally

…10 years of new teammates coming, old teammates going and some teammates being there for the entire ride, like these two:

IMG_4273A

Teammate Mason Long

IMG_4377A

Teammate Jacob Kutchey

All of these baseball memories cut deep into my psyche. And they are stronger than any disappointment I may have temporarily felt about Alex not making the high school baseball team this year.

Painful cuts can be deep. We feel them more. Or, perhaps, when we reflect on all the memories, we just think we feel them more.


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My 20/20 Vision Sometimes Gets a Little Blurry

Today is Alex’s first day of high school. I was able to obtain the obligatory first day of school picture. Evidently, once you hit high school (or teenager status), smiling is no longer allowed  cool  something you do, just so you can annoy the snot out of your mother.

IMG_1755

This is my happy face, mom.

Was it only a few short months ago that the parents of 8th graders were jammed into a school gym with no air conditioning to celebrate the milestone of middle school graduation? Editor’s note: Sorry for the quality of the video – that’s what happens when you are a lame parent and don’t think to film the entire room, so you have to steal  swipe  use some fancy technology to copy as best as possible an uploaded version to Facebook by a parent who does have their shit together  was thinking it would be a good idea.

Was it only a few short months ago that my kid was already practicing his ‘we shant smile for anything when mom asks’ look, so that it took at least three tries to get a semi-usable photo of him next to the school mascot?

IMG_1372

This is as happy as my face gets, mom.

Was it only a few short months ago that the video compilation of pictures moms and dads submitted was played at the ceremony?

Was it only a few short months ago that the parents, grandparents, and guardians in attendance realized there was one problem?

Tshirt

You see, our 20/20 vision for these kids’ future was a bit blurry. Because tears of pride will do that to you.

Whole class

Walkersville High School Lions Class of 2020


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Nick and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Week

When you’re 12, life is pretty simple. All you have to do is a little homework, a few chores, and spend the rest of your waking life 1) annoying the snot out of your older brother, 2) pretending you don’t hear your parents when they call your name, 4) watching vines of guys getting hit in/on/around their balls, or 3) complaining about the fact you have no clean socks.

But a few weeks ago, my son Nick’s life turned from simple to simply terrible. Simply horrible. Simply no good. Simply very bad.

It started with one of the other moms telling me at a lacrosse game on May 16 about a book report each kid in the class was working on, due on May 29. Funny, Nick hadn’t mentioned anything to me. So on the way home, I asked him about it.

“Oh yeah,” he responded. “I have to draw a comic strip representation of the story. It should be easy.”

“Have you started reading the book yet?” I questioned.

“Um…no. It’s only 200 pages, so I figured I could do that the night before and just draw the comic strip, too.”

Read a 200+ page book and draw a comic strip representative of the characters, storyline, plot, conflict, and resolution in one night when you’ve had a whole month to work on it? Terrible, Nick. Just terrible.

On May 19, I got a call from the assistant principal at Nick’s school. It seems that during recess (his favorite part of school) he and classmates had been playing kickball. A kid who (allegedly) constantly interrupts the game, goofs off, and doesn’t play fair started doing just that. And Nick — in his words — just snapped. “He does it every recess and it ruins the game and then we don’t get to spend our time playing because of it!” The Assistant Principal let me know that Nick had started chasing the kid when he purposely kicked the ball over the fence, effectively ending the game. At some point the kid turned around and hit Nick in the face.

Both boys were called into the principal’s office separately. Nick had given his side, the other kid told his side, and both sets of parents received a call.

So, tell the assistant principal you ‘just snapped’, and chased a kid because he ruined your kickball game at recess? Horrible, Nick. Just horrible.

On May 20, we got an email from one of Nick’s teachers. He was missing some homework and she asked us to check his binder when he brought it home. I’m not sure how most teachers define ‘some’, but I certainly don’t define it as more than 8 homework assignments not done/not turned in since early April. The teacher had provided a list of all the missing items and highlighted them. My husband spent most of the evening barking at Nick because he’d been telling us he either did it in school or had no homework.

Later that evening when the barking subsided, Nick sat with me at the kitchen table and cleaned out his binder, put papers in the sections where they belonged, and completed EVERY LAST FUCKING PAPER LABELED HOMEWORK that I could find.

At one point he wailed, “but mom, we did ratios way back in January. This one doesn’t matter.”

To which I hissed back “It. Matters. To. Me.”

Which made Nick’s face do something like this:

Yikes.

Yikes.

Not doing your homework, not turning it in when you do complete it, and lying to us about having and/or doing your homework? No good, Nick. Just no good.

On the Friday of Memorial Day weekend, I was working from home. I heard a strange noise coming from our deck where the dogs were. Going to investigate, I found Jake with what appeared to be a grin on his face as he chewed. I attempted to reason with him … “what is that?”…”give me that”…”this is not a game you dumb furbag”. Reasoning with him didn’t work. When I was finally able to snatch the object from him, it was the remnants of Nick’s retainer case. And no remnants of a retainer.

This was his third retainer because 1) our other dog Mocha sampled and destroyed the first one, and 2) because Nick thought his pocket was a great place to store the second retainer until he sat on it and broke it in half.

For the record, retainers cost 12 pedicures (@ $25 per pedicure), people. TWELVE!

My husband and I had no idea if the retainer had been in the case, since Nick is notorious for forgetting to put it back in after meals, after brushing teeth, or after his parents have harassed him repeatedly with comments like “perhaps a little Gorilla glue will help you remember to keep the damn thing in your mouth!”.

So when Nick danced in the door that afternoon and shouted out “Three day weekend, baby!”, he had no idea his celebration would prove premature. My husband called him into the office where he was working. I heard him ask Nick “do you have your retainer in your mouth?”.  Nick mumbled something back. And the next thing I heard may have rhymed with “Well why the duck not?”

Leaving your retainer case where counter-surfer Jake can get it, so that your parents have to buy a third replacement retainer for $300 in less than a year? Very bad, Nick. Very bad. (You too, Jake)

Let’s just hope his brother Alexander doesn’t have a similar kind of experience…

alexander-and-the-terrible-horrible-no-good-9781481414128_lg


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iCaved

I’m guessing that the average age that kids start pestering their parents for a phone is about 12. Or maybe it is better defined by the point at which they enter middle school and have the potential to eat up copious amounts of minutes and data by texting and sharing pictures (more on that later).

For us, the trigger point was my son attending a birthday sleepover with one of his friends who turned 13 earlier this year. Evidently, every kid at the party had their cell phone with them. When the birthday boy’s mom asked Alex, “did you forget your phone Alex?”, his response was “I’m not allowed to have one.”

Way to throw your mean old parents under the bus, kid. Well, actually, his mean old mom. His dad thinks he should have a phone.But I refused to give in because my philosophy has always been:

I still have to drive your ass to everything, so you aren’t going to have any roadside emergencies for awhile. And as long as the school principal’s office has a phone, you don’t need one. Besides…if I do get a call from the principal’s office, you have bigger problems than being the only kid without his own cell phone.

We had this same argument when it came to zombie/blood/guts/guns/war games for the Xbox. I was the last mom on the planet (according to my sons) to let them have Call of Duty. But I was the first mom to let them watch movies like Wedding Crashers, Dodgeball, Role Models, and The Hangover. I should earn some cool mom credit for that, right?

Bitchplease

The case for a phone was not getting any stronger after I spent a night out with the moms of two eighth graders and another seventh grader. They told me about the big scandal at school during the basketball season. Eighth grade boys were allegedly taking pictures of themselves, texting/snapchatting them to girls, and asking the girls to send pictures of their boobs back. And the girls were agreeing to it.

Well, somebody get me to the cell phone store so I can get my son a phone – STAT!

37-mean-girls-gif

The next day I asked Alex if he had heard of any kids getting called to the principal’s office about inappropriate texting and picture sharing. He responded, “not that I know of.”  His father then said “Alex, were people sending naked pictures around?”  Alex quickly responded, “oh yeah, that. Mom you didn’t ask if it was naked pictures.”

The fuck?

The fuck?

But this past week, I had to take my son Nick to lacrosse practice on Wednesday while my husband was out of town. Alex’s friend Ty came over just before we were going to leave and asked if Alex could come play. I said yes, and before I had a chance to ask where he was going and give him a time to be home, he was out the door and gone.

Nick and I jumped in the car to head to practice. We drove thru the neighborhood to see if we could find Alex to tell him what time to be home. But we didn’t see him, so I left in order to get Nick to practice on time.

On the way to practice, Nick said “you know mom, if Alex had a phone, you could just call or text him what time to get home.” Which made me feel like this:

Shut it, kid.

Shut it, kid.

While I was at the lacrosse field, I got this text from Alex’s iPad at 7:00pm:

He checked in, and I hadn't even asked him to

He checked in, and I hadn’t even asked him to

So after sitting down with my husband and coming up with a list of what Alex isn’t allowed to do with this phone, we visited the Verizon store on Sunday, and purchased him one. While we were there, my husband and I upgraded the iPhone 4’s we have had since 2010 to iPhone 6’s.

And the whole thing probably cost us less than all the replacement retainers his brother Nick has lost in less than a year — three of them at $300 a pop! Nick will probably not be eligible to join the family phone plan until the iPhone 13 becomes available, given his track record with retainers. However, his orthodontists are making enough bank from the Rices to upgrade their phones every month or so.

So, we can now send Alex and his brother to the pool by themselves during the Summer, and still be able to reach them. We can have them go play with friends and have a way to check in with them periodically.

And middle school girls…in case you think I’m a pushover because I caved on getting my son a phone, here’s some advice. You want no part of a momma who might find your booby selfie on her son’s phone.

Wonder Mom says

Wonder Mom says “oh HELL no!”


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Lessons in Striking Out

Youth football - bling it!

Mom spirit wear – bling it!

I’ve had many proud moments as the mom of two young athletes. Among those memories are not:

  • My complete and utter meltdown at Sports Authority when my husband responded (with an unnecessary eye-roll accompaniment) “Because you can’t” to my inquiry “Why the hell can’t they just use their baseball cleats as football cleats if they have not outgrown them?”
  • The stream of cuss words that spewed forth when I screwed up my MOM bling iron-on for my self-made spirit wear
  • Any time I have had to work the concession stand for football, baseball, basketball, or lacrosse
  • The complete and utter meltdown my son Alex had after striking out during a game in the State Championship Tournament. Must be something in the DNA.

His meltdown was most likely precipitated by the false illusion that the $200 bat we bought him during the Beach Blast Tournament his team went to in Myrtle Beach was magical. Perhaps he thought the bat would somehow turn him into Babe Rice, jacking shots over fences at a ridiculous clip.

When the bat was purchased I asked explicitly “This isn’t one of those big barrel things that is not legal in some tournaments. He’ll be able to use it in the upcoming Fourth of July Tournament and the State Tournament, right?”

My husband gave me another one of his eye-rolls as he spat out “Of course he can use it. We know what we’re doing.”  ‘We know what we are doing’ turned out to be code for: ‘I’m assuming he can. But I have no idea. So stop pestering me.’

Editor’s note: It turns out it is a big barrel bat and he was not able to use it in the last two tournaments of the season. So by my estimation, we paid exactly $26.66 per at bat for that damn thing this season, since Alex was only able to use it in the remaining games of the Myrtle Beach Tournament.

When Alex couldn’t use his new bat at the State Tournament, he began trying out other players’ bats. And after an at bat where he struck out — here comes the proud parent stuff — he slammed down the bat, kicked at the dirt, and on his way back to the dugout he ignored a coach who kept repeating “Look at me, Alex.” When he finally did look at his coach, the coach asked Alex if that was his bat. Alex snarled back “no”, and his coach told him “Then you need to apologize to the owner for how you treated it.”  Alex rolled his eyes (must be something in the DNA) and walked away without responding.

His head coach then pulled him away from the bench and tried to calm him down. And Alex began to bark back about how the umpire was awful and stupid. The coach said “you’re done today, Alex”.  But due to the rules of substitutions, the coach’s decision could not be implemented without disadvantaging the team, so Alex ended up staying in the game.

I was barely able to keep my ass connected to the bleacher. I was prepared to take him out … and not in the you’re-gonna-be-sitting-on-the-bench-for-the-rest-of-the-game kinda way. I was ready to rip Alex a new one for his ridiculous, inappropriate, disrespectful, and downright unsportsmanlike behavior.  But I wasn’t fast enough because his dad was already on it before I could even get up.

After the game, it was a very silent 2 hour ride home. That evening after we all had time to calm down Alex — teary-eyed — admitted his behavior was wrong. When my husband asked him why he wasn’t using the bat we paid $200 for last year (the bat that wasn’t illegal for these tournaments), Alex explained “because other kids were getting hits with Brooks’ bat”. My husband responded gently but firmly, “it’s not the bat that produces the hit Alex.” More teary-eyes. This time from Alex and me, as the truth of the words stung.

We told Alex he would need to apologize to both his coaches for his behavior before the games the next morning. When we arrived at the fields, he did just that. He came over to let me know the apologies had been delivered, and gave me a fist bump. I said “good job, kiddo. I’m proud of you because I know that wasn’t easy. New day; better attitude, right?”

He smiled as he walked away toward the dugout, not realizing he was now batting a thousand when it mattered most.

 

Sorry, Matt Wieters. But my heart belongs to this catcher.

Sorry, Matt Wieters. But my heart belongs to this catcher.


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Momcraft

So, in yet another spectacular example of my failure as a parent, I have no idea what the hell Minecraft is.

Mojang © 2009-2013. "Minecraft" is a trademark of Notch Development AB

Mojang © 2009-2013. “Minecraft” is a trademark of Notch Development AB

Um…perhaps I should have an idea since my 9 year old son Nick plays it C-O-N-S-T-A-N-T-L-Y.  By constantly, I mean when he’s not doing homework, in school, playing baseball, sleeping or eating, he’s MineCrafting (soon to be an Oxford dictionary verb, like Googling?).

For all I know, MineCraft has these features:

  • topless 36DD Playmate-style commandos
  • guns, guns and more guns
  • hot rodding through the streets of some gotham-esque computer generated city, ignoring stop signs and blowing through red lights, as you toss empty cans of Bud Light out the window
  • the “f” bomb used in every other sentence (sort of like at our house)
  • apocolypic zombies eating the flesh of innocents
  • knives, machetes and other sharp instruments of destruction
  • point accumulation indexes based on drinking, smoking, cussing, shooting, lying, stealing, porno appreciation, virtual promiscuity, vehicular violations, drug cartel leadership, and amassing the most felony charges

I’ll tell you that it’s my observation that the most important, get-you-the-highest-score feature of Minecraft appears to be ignoring your mother when she asks you to unload the dishwasher.

I was talking with a colleague about the game and asked him if he knew anything about it.  He told me it was actually a creative game, where you build things. He said “think of it like an electronic erector set, or electronic legos.”

Wow. No boobs. No bombs. No bad-assin’ around. Just being creative and letting your imagination run away with you?

Perhaps I need to worry less about Minecraft and see if I can up the lousy score I seem to have on Momcraft.


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Imagine That

My husband had to take a short-notice trip to Indiana for work.  He left on a Monday morning and wouldn’t be back until late Tuesday night.

He left for the airport about 20 minutes before the boys had to catch the bus. Since I leave for my commute at 6:00am, I would have already left for work and been useless to help get them off to school.

My husband will tell you I could have ended that sentence at the word “useless” and it would be appropriate for any parenting situation I am faced with.

That evening, the boys would be home about two hours by themselves before I got home from work.  They had strict instructions – no friends over, do not take the dog for a walk, do not answer the phone unless it is your mom or dad calling, and — for the love of all that is holy — make sure the dog doesn’t snatch anything out of a laundry basket or you’ll be the one to clean whatever she barfs back up.

I called the boys at 4:10pm to let them know I was getting ready to head home, and remind them not to answer the door, take the dog for a walk or have any friends over. My oldest said, “yeah, dad just called and told us the same thing.”

On the way home, while I was underground on the Metro and out of cell phone contact for approximately 20 minutes, I let my mind wander. To what might happen at our house with both parents gone for about 2 hours.

Here are the scenarios that popped into my head:

Please don't use mom's 500 thread count sheets!©2013 SF Weekly, LP, All rights reserved.

TOGA PARTY! Please don’t use mom’s 500 thread count sheets.
Image ©2013 SF Weekly, LP, All rights reserved.

METEOR!  It's on a collision course with our house. Really. Or not.© 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies.

METEOR! It’s on a collision course with our house. Or not.
Image © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies.

Jesus, I hope my boys didn't use their fingerpaints for  this!from yeeeah.com

PLAYMATES! Hell, I hope my boys didn’t use their fingerpaints for this.
Image from yeeeah.com

ARRESTED!  Police show up and take my precious babies into custody. "It was only a matter of time with a mother like that", claims neighbor.Image © The Jerusalem Post 1995 - 2012

ARRESTED! Police show up and take my precious babies into custody after neighbors called to report a brawl. “It was only a matter of time, with a mother like that”, claims 911-calling neighbor.
Image © The Jerusalem Post 1995 – 2012

START A BUSINESS! Hopefully not a risky, prostitute laden enterprise.Image from Mary Evans/Ronald Grant/Everett Collection

ENTREPRENEURSHIP! Hopefully not a risky, prostitute-laden enterprise.
Image from Mary Evans/Ronald Grant/Everett Collection

But when I arrived home, this is what I found:

Son #1 playing his iPad mini, while devil dog keeps him company

Son #1 playing his iPad mini, while devil dog keeps him company (those glowing eyes she always has in pictures are super creepy!)

Son #2 plays Minecraft, and his eyes bug out watching the screen.

Son #2 plays Minecraft. His eyes bug out watching the screen. Hopefully it’s not Minecraft Painted Playmate version.

They did what they were told, weren’t fighting and were keeping out of trouble. Imagine that.


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Mirror, Mirror

As any parent will tell you, the parent/teacher conferences during the school year are akin to the kind of fun one has during a suspect interrogation.

Um…or so I’ve heard.

While no police reports have made their way home (yet), there is a looming dread that the teacher has invited a surprise guest to your conference — Officer “F.M. All”.  He will be delighted to share the mathematical trajectory to juvenile delinquency he has painstakingly calculated. A trajectory which proves your little darling(s) — in combination with current scholastic standing and classroom behavior — will be Officer Eff ‘Em’s most gratifying arrest(s) in the very near future.

In light of a potential meeting with the Po-Po, I carefully selected my parent/teacher conference outfit:

But of course I reconsidered, once I saw this fantastic little number:

Most importantly, I had prepped my “That’s totally the Rice DNA at work” response with accompanying eye roll in the direction of my husband, should any offspring deficiencies be shared with us. My husband was perfecting his point-at-my-wife-behind-her-back-because-it’s-all-her-fault motion.

We were told by Nick’s teacher that he’s very bright, however — he has a tendency to daydream, and become occupied with other things that distract his attention from the task at hand.  “What?”, I asked, as I picked at my chipping nail polish and halted the grocery list I was compiling in my head.

As we walked in the door to Alex’s classroom, the teacher blurted out “How does it feel to be such great parents, who are raising such an amazing kid?”  

I nearly got whiplash turning my head to see who had come through the door behind us.

Alex’s teacher shared that while he excels at everything he does, Alex needs to show his work.  “He’s very linear, logical and there’s no nonsense in his approach to work.  He gets there and moves on to the next thing.  He does the work in his head, but we have to see how he actually got there.

To which my husband replied, “If he gets the right answer, is it really necessary for you to see the work?  Are there any real issues we need to discuss?”

Mirror, mirror on the wall…turns out our boys are just like us, after all.